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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « War! What is it Good For? | On Forgiveness »
    Friday
    Mar012013

    Will They Know We Are Christians By Our Attitudes?

    There is an attitude that many Christians have. It is arrogant, flippant, reproachful, disrespectful, and a bit lazy towards those who don’t see eye-to-eye with them. How many times have I seen Christians’ responses to atheists on websites “Well…I’ll be praying for you” (like a threat) or “You need Jesus!” It’s about as mature as the person who finishes off their comment with “Bam!”

     

    Not just atheists receive this treatment but homosexuals, people from other religions, and even other Christians who have differing opinions. This holier-than-thou attitude MUST STOP if we want to really share the love of Christ (see: Elitism).

     

    Now, I won’t go so far in the opposite direction to say that we must accept everyone into our homes and churches (in fact I believe the church is meant solely for the fellowshipping of Christians), but we should love everyone.

     

    Instead, many Christians I’ve run into will invite people to church, but never show them enough respect to even hear the other person’s views. I suppose they believe the other person’s views don’t really matter because only Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and I agree this is true, but not showing respect shows a lack of love.

     

    Many churches teach the idea either outright or implied, that Christians “must” (aka they are duty-bound) invite as many people to their church as possible and get them “plugged in” or “connected” so they will stay, hear God’s word preached, and become Christians (which wasn’t exactly the way it was done in the Book of Acts).

     

    If a person wants to talk they are redirected to church. If the person isn’t interested, “well we tried”, is the flippant attitude many Christians give off. They don’t have time for that person anymore, they must move on to the next individual who needs witnessed to. This assembly line is the new face of evangelism, it seems.

     

    But is evangelism a duty? When the Bible says,  

    Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19)

    it also says,

    “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Tim. 2:22-26) (emphasis mine)

     

    When Christians have the attitude, “well, I tried, it’s up to them now” after talking once or twice with a person (which is partially true, and why it’s so deceptive), it’s on the same level as my child throwing the sheet over the bed and saying, “Yup, it’s made.”

     

    I recently read the phrase, “duty compels where love fails” and it seems to apply to the attitude behind these situations. But we are not “duty bound” to evangelize or invite people to or back to church, we are “love bound”. 1 Corinthians 13:8 says,

    “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

     

    A duty is an obligation, and Christians should certainly be responsible towards obligations/duties; Love however goes beyond responsibility. We should not dispense with duty, but duty does not replace love.

     

    The love a parent has for a child goes beyond the responsibility a parent has for a child. While both are needed for a healthy relationship, love and duty are mutually exclusive. I would be offended if my spouse merely felt an obligation toward me, and not love. Indeed, God is also offended when people feel obligated to do something for God, rather than obey out of love.

     

    The Israelites were keeping their obligations to the Mosaic Law, and by the time of Jesus and the Gospels the Israelites had laws to guard against breaking the Law!  The Israelites observed the proper feasts at their proper time, they made sure to sacrifice animals accordingly. They prayed, read, and obeyed the Law save for one item that Jesus famously highlighted in the Gospels,

    Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40 and Deut. 6:5)

     

    God doesn’t want to be obliged, He doesn’t want to be placated like so many other ancient deities; The God of the Bible wants to be willingly obeyed.

    “The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?

    13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.

    Your hands are full of blood! 16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow…”  (Isaiah 1:11-17)

     

    If God, who sees the heart behind our actions does not want to be seen as a duty, how much more other people who cannot see the heart behind our actions? 

     Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40 and Deut. 6:5)

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