Thursday, November 07, 2013

Because We Are Told…Or Something Else?

It was but one statement and yet it left me searching my own heart for answers. I cannot even tell you the name of the person or the context of the interview. All I know is that he was an atheist who said he was brought up in a Christian household. One of his reasons for rejecting his parents’ faith was his feeling that we should not have to be told to be nice to people. After thinking about what he said I have come to a conclusion: this atheist was absolutely right.

I think it unfortunate that so often the Christian faith is taught as if it is simply a list of do’s and don’ts. True, the Bible lists for us patterns of righteousness, telling us how to relate to God and to man. But the text is clear on the need for a change in nature, a necessity if we are to keep those teachings from becoming just another form of law. In Christ we are said to be a new creation, the promise of a new heart of flesh to replace our heart of stone fulfilled in the work of God’s hand. As such the question of why we do things must have as its answer something other than because we are told to do so.

As a parent I have from time to time caught myself telling my kids to do something because I said so. The Bible shows God using a much different parenting style. He actively works to change the person, creating an individual whose desire is to live the teachings of Christ by nature. Yes, we are to treat others a certain way, showing the love of Christ. But this is not something we accomplish simply because we are told to do so. It must come from a heart which is surrendered to God that we might join in saying, “Not I but Christ in me.”

In other words Christian behavior is not simply a matter of doing because we are told. As Christians we should treat people a certain way because it is who we are.