2002-05-03 - Stingy Christianity
Galations 5:1 (NASB) It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
We took our dog Pierre to the mountains and jubilantly announced to him "you can go wherever you want!" But when he tried to tunnel through a culvert, we made him come out. Of course, that was truly for his own good, so he wouldn't get stuck. But it reminded me of how we Christians treat each other at times.
As Paul says in the above verse (and other ones), we are free. If the Bible doesn't say or imply that something is wrong, we are free to do it; it is between us and the Holy Spirit. It amazes me sometimes, how people try to take away our freedom in Christ. Of course as Paul also reminds us, we must be sensitive to other weaker Christians. But within that boundary, we have much freedom, and we shouldn't let anyone take it away from us, as it's God-given freedom.
There are Christians who feel it's superior to not own a television or to not subscribe to the newspaper, overlooking the wholesome shows (like reruns on "Nick at Nite"), history specials, science specials (My favorite is NASA TV!) etc. I personally love the quote from evangelist D.L. Moody that he prayed "with the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other." Reading the newspaper helps me serve God better in the ministries in which I am involved.
Others think we should sing only "traditional" hymns in church services, even though this is totally a cultural issue. In fact, many of our "traditional" hymns were anything but, when first sung. The tune of "Amazing Grace" comes from a bar song. In a church I used to attend, we were not to play cards, even if no money were involved. We weren't even allowed to enjoy "Old Maid." And though we could watch TV on the Sabbath, we couldn't swim on Sunday (I still don't understand that one!).
Jesus spent much of His time fighting legalism. He warned the judgmental teachers to not put burdens on the people - rules that were manmade and not God-made. We Christians have a bad habit of being stingy with the freedom God gave us. "Well yes, you can sing to God but don't play a guitar or drums!!" (I haven't yet heard a verse to back that up and the Psalms promote percussion instruments.) "You can enjoy God's gifts of food and drink, but you shouldn't drink wine!" They seem to forget the fact that while the Bible condemns drunkenness, it doesn't condemn alcohol on a moderate basis. In fact, Jesus Himself drank wine. It's the same as with food. We are not to be gluttons, but we are to enjoy food in moderation.
If you adhere to any of these beliefs (or similar ones), you are completely free to live by them - if that is how God leads you personally. But don't condemn other people if they do not ' "judge not, lest you be judged." As Paul said, we are to make such decisions between ourselves and God, and if our conscience is clear, we are not to let others judge us. We need to enjoy our freedom in Christ, and not try to take away others' freedoms. We don't have the right to do that.