Living as a Christian in the 21st Century Part 2 – The Resolution

This is a subject with which I am currently wrestling. Here are my thoughts – perhaps not particularly well articulated, but that is the nature of an ongoing development of thinking.

First and foremost we must affirm the things that the Scripture teaches that all Christians would believe – The Trinity, the Deity and humanity of Christ, His life death and resurrection as God’s way of rescuing sinners, the Scripture as being supremely authoritative in everything. That may seem to be a minimalist statement, and many would want to add to or nuance it. But essentially, I believe that everything is covered there.
The most important thing for us as Christians is that we are people of the Gospel – the GOOD news of Jesus and what he has done. THAT is what should define us, not what our views are on certain moral issues. Our ultimate aim should be to point people to him that they may be brought to personal faith. The unfortunate thing is that the focus is on our attitudes to these issues. In the case of the Pastor who was due to pray at President Obama’s inauguration and did not, attention was drawn to one sermon preached over 20 years ago; all the good work that he has been doing week in week out is seemingly ignored just to push a particular agenda.
Secondly, we must show concern and compassion for all others, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with them. We must make sure that where there is a difference of opinion we always conduct ourselves graciously and lovingly. We must make a distinction between accepting people and endorsing their lifestyle choices.
We need to model ourselves on Jesus himself. He went out of his way to be compassionate to those who were seen as “sinners”. However, he never condoned their sin. We must be loving and compassionate to everyone, yes everyone, regardless of their sin. However, that does not mean that we affirm their every behaviour. It is possible to say that (for example) you accept those who are in a same – sex relationship without agreeing with what they are doing. The Evangelical Alliance in the UK has a statement here that is well worth taking the time to read; a great example of how to put that into action.
We will be misunderstood for this – people who are not Christians cannot separate the person from the behaviour. As far as they are concerned, if you express disapproval of the behaviour, you disapprove of the person. There is not a great deal we can do about that, it is not easy to change the opinion of someone who thinks in that way. We must make sure that there are absolutely no LEGITIMATE grounds for criticising our treatment of others.
However much we may disagree with someone; we must never resort to personal abuse. Even if we consider someone’s view to be abhorrent, we must still be calm and gracious. And we should not be surprised – Jesus himself told us that we will face opposition because of what we believe.
Thirdly we must pray. Our God is gracious and will answer. We need to bring each other before him and ask that we may have his wisdom to deal with life as we face it in whatever sphere he has put us.
This will not give us an easy life – we can’t expect that. Some Christian leaders have sought to re – interpret Scripture in order to give them that, and thus take away any criticism that unbelievers may have. (Of course, in so doing they have opened themselves up to criticism from some fellow believers!). Let us make sure that we are living a life, by the power of his Spirit in accordance with his Word. That’s all any of us can do.

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