So many of our Christian conversations and questions revolve around what forms of entertainment and behavior are “allowed” for a Christian. There are many varied views on this topic. What about all the gray areas that aren’t covered in scripture? The accusation of legalism is a common one if one shares conviction on any “gray” area. But I would propose that maybe the question isn’t “Is this right or wrong?” but instead “Will this move me closer to or away from the God I love?” A second question that must quickly follow this one is “Will this help or hinder my Christian brothers and sisters in their walk with Christ?” This changes the whole conversation, doesn’t it?
So much of our gray area conversations are rationalizations on why it is okay to do things that go against principles in scripture. We grab the typical passages used out of context for our arguments. But in thinking through what direction I want to go–towards God, if I am a believer–I have to challenge myself to think through WHY I am trying so hard to rationalize a particular behavior or action. Oftentimes it is for my own self gratification. It is because it is something I want to do and has nothing to do with bringing glory to Christ, reaching others for Him, or furthering His kingdom in any way, shape, or form.
The other thing worth mentioning here is that there are certain things that are not going to be cut and dried. For instance, while a glass of wine with dinner or attending a horse race may be fine for some, these activities are going to present some pretty serious problems for the alcoholic and the gambler. And, while, perhaps some of us can do these things without stumbling, it is imperative that we, as believers, show love and care for our fellow believers and not tempt them unnecessarily; always taking very great care in all that we do.
When it comes right down to it, our walk with God is all about love. But it is not only His love for us, but it is also our love for God, which translates itself into our selfless actions–denying ourselves worldly pleasures and showing immense selflessness towards others (see James 1:27).
So perhaps we have been asking the wrong question. Perhaps I need to ask myself will this help me or my fellow believers in their walk with Christ? Or will it be a detriment? Will I please the Lord with this action or will I grieve Him? Do I love the Lord enough NOT to do this thing I really want to do in order to please Him? We need to stop trying to rationalize and, instead, take an honest look at our hearts’ intentions. The excuse that “it isn’t specifically in the Bible” is pretty weak when we ask ourselves the question of direction, rather than the question of legislation.
Mark 12:30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
4 thoughts on “Are We Asking the Wrong Question?”
Nice article, the only thing I think you are lacking on is perspective from the other side. For instance, if you claim xyz is sinful then of course it would appear that the other person is trying to rationalize doing it.
But to some people, there is no need to rationalize because if the scripture does not condemn, then who are we to condemn? Does that make sense? Why have so many Christains become so arrogant to think that God did not create enough rules in His Bible that they need to make up extras? Isn’t this what the pharisees did?
Now in regard to the weaker brothers, I agree. Even though there is nothing wrong with doing certain things, it would be wrong to do so in front of, or flaunting to other people who are still living a Chrstian life of bondage.
So many of these ‘gray’ areas should be done in private, not out of shame, but out of love for those who cannot see them for the white they are. God did not create gray, man did to rationalize his arrogance for wanting to add to God’s word.
I think that you may, perhaps, be missing my whole point. I agree…there are many who try to make rules that are just not in scripture. I also agree that there are not as many gray areas as we would like to believe. My whole point, however, is that we get way too caught up in the wrong argument. Instead of asking “Is this something I can get away with?” we should be asking, “Is this something that will move my soul closer to the God I love?” And, quite truthfully, most things do have scripture that back them but are not mentioned specifically. For example:
Psalm 11:5 The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
If God makes it clear that the righteous man hates violence, why would we even desire to go to a movie filled with it? Would that be a choice that is moving me closer or further away from the God I love? And, please remember, most of all…it does not matter what I, the writer, claim is sinful (if I gave you that idea, I humbly apologize). My beliefs are irrelevant. The ONLY thing that matters is what scripture teaches. And the only way we know what scripture teaches is to be in the Word. So many of us get caught up in our busy lives and do not have any idea what scripture contains. Does that make a little bit more sense? I wasn’t really writing it to condemn, but more as a challenge to look at our own lives and the things we rationalize…
I see what you are saying, there were just parts of what you wrote and your reply where it sounded as if your were saying that the people doing these things were either rationalizing or seeing what they can get away with, and I would challenge that that my not be the case.
If a kid is not aware of the verse in Psalms you quoted, then their playing of all those shoot em up games that kids love is understood in the context of ignorance rather than rationalization. To that end, I totally agree with you regarding busy lives and not making time to be in the word. I live that on a daily basis.
Thanks again for writing and responding. I enjoy reading your blog.
Okay…I see where you are coming from. Yes, absolutely. We cannot expect the same thing from a new Christian as we do from a mature Christian. As John MacArthur says: “It is the direction, not the perfection that determines if you are a believer”. We need to see growth in a fellow Christian to prove they are alive in Christ, but growth takes on many different faces and conviction about certain things may not come until later. I guess all of us sin in ignorance sometimes. I was not really addressing this issue, which is surely a very real one. I had a situation in college with a roommate who I judged very harshly (me, very naive, growing up in a Christian home and her, a new Christian with a very rough background). I really wish I would have understood the principle of grace a little bit better at that point in my life. She is still one of my best friends and she has grown tremendously in Christ, but that year we spent as roommates was a tough one and I learned a lot. Thanks for clarifying and thanks for your encouragement :)