Friday, February 20, 2009

Morality vs. Conversion

Hello All,

Over the last several weeks, the kids and I have been doing our Bible time from an actual "words only" Bible. We read through the picture Bible about 6 times, which makes for some very tattered pages and whole sections that are now missing. I figured that if I bought ANOTHER picture Bible that it would just end up the same way, so I moved us to the real scriptures. We focused first on the Sermon on the Mount, then moved to the Fruit of the Spirit. Lately, we have been studying the 10 Commandments.

Before the kids and I actually look at the "Commandment Du Jour," I ask them a series of questions. For example, "Who wrote the 10 Commandments?" The answer of course is God. "Who were the 10 Commandments written for?" The people of Israel were the original recipients, but by virtue of our covenant relationship with God through Christ, the commandments are a part of our relationship to God, and our compliance with them demonstrates our fidelity and love to God. Where not bound in practice, we are bound in principle. When the New Testament repeats a command, which is the case with 9 of the 10, then it's explicitly directed to believers in Christ. The Sabbath command is not repeated and is therefore implictly obeyed by making sure to set apart time to reflect and honor the Lord in our hearts. The answers are a little shorter when it's the kids, but since they don't read this blog, I thought I would tailor it to your eyes!

Now, the other night, we covered the commandment found in Exodus 20:16, which reads, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." Lying, a problem in the wilderness community, was prohibited by the Lord for His people. It's important to remember that this was God's prohibition meant to be understood in relation to God by His people.

When I asked the kids to illustrate this, immediately Renae was quick to point out a class mate of hers who apparently has a problem with each of the commandments. This little person does not claim to know the Lord. Additionally, their family, to my knowledge, does not attend any church, and unless my discerno'meter is way off, there is little connection to the Lord at all.

When I recognized this, I mentioned to Renae that these commandments were not meant for Non-Hebrews/Non-Christians. These were binding only to those in covenant with God. This confused her momentarily, as it does most Christians. First, to comprehend that God's law is specific to God's people is strange to consider for a 7 year old. Second, to comprehend that someone has to choose to receive Christ and then, as an expression of loving devotion, follow the commandments, is baffling. The third issue in her heart is of course, the unnatural lack of universal acceptance of God's love.

These thoughts hang us up as well and Christians raise the banner of imposing Christian covenant law upon non-Christian people. This is one of the main reasons why I don't campaign for things like the public posting of the 10 Commandments. Why should a non-Christian seek to follow these statements? Why should any person outside of a relationship with Christ, seek to do anything that might please Him?

In fact, Paul said it best when referring to the "end" of our salvation. He wrote that if the dead do not rise (a sign of our eventual glorification, which is the end of our salvation) then we are men the most to be pitied! Why? Because we have lived a life based on something that wasn't true. We denied ourselves every earthly pleasure for the sake of the call of Christ. We have taken risks in the name of Jesus, some greater than others, for the sake of calling men to the same faith that we hold. Paul finishes and says that the dead are raised, and Christ, being the firstfruits, guarantees our glorification as well. Our reward is Christ and His riches are given to us in eternity.

The world has their reward here. This is the best that it gets for them. A one night stand on a Friday night after an evening of drinking and lying about themselves is a "great time." Gaining riches at other's expense with little thought to who is harmed, much less who benefits, is the mode of operation that the World subscribes to. Don't get me wrong, as I am not a Christian who believes that every non-believer is a full blown party animal, with little regard for others than themselves. There are very moral, thoughtful and intelligent people who have presently rejected Christ. But that morality and upstanding nature is not enough to please God on Judgment Day. For Christians to attempt to force morality or the law that we uphold upon a non-Christian is to present morality as a viable alternative to conversion.

Jesus does not want to change somebody's behavior. He want to change their hearts! Jesus died for their hearts! He wants to take that dead tissue of a heart and regenerate it to life in Him.

I pray that we as a Christian community, would serve the watching world with a genuine prayer that seeks their transformation and nothing less.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez


Anonymous said...

well said! Amen and agreed!
We use a Children's Bible at home in the evenings, and I am always having to add the parts that are left out or correct the parts that are added. Often times though -- my daughter will ask what I am reading in the mornings, and we end up having an impromtu lesson out of my grown up Bible. I like your idea -- especially since our Children's Bible is circling the drain!

Mama C said...

Frank, I love the way you weave these truths of the Word into your everyday life. This is a very clear and understandable illustration, and it touched me. Thanks.