June 5, 2006

Witnessing for Legalism


How do we make people "christian?" Why do we witness? What is a witness? Evangelism? Who does it, and how do they do it?

Recently I had a conversation, and many of these questions and ideas came up. To be honest, these things bother me. When I first became a Christian in late high school, I was broken and transformed by Christ. Through a few years of fundamental, overly conservative church attendance, not to mention this place, I lost my first love. The life Christ gave me was stomped out, replaced by legalism.

Legalism was my number one goal and I didn't realize it. Why? because I was concerned with being a good "Christian," and had to have a good witness. No matter what I had to protect my witness, and the world made me sick, secular music made me sick, to be honest secular people made me sick. Love the sinner, hate the sin...yeah right. This so easily translates into hate the sinner, until they are a good and clean Christian.

Now, well, I've changed. I love God again, I love his work, and I love people, especially those who say stuff like damn and shit, those who like a good beer, those who don't think like I do. And here's the deal, I DON'T WANT ONE SINGLE PERSON TO EVER BECOME A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE OF ME! (I know, your expecting me to say, I want God to do it...but that's not where I'm going either).

See, a Christian is a person who rearranges their life around the western, modern day church. To go to church every Sunday, to dress right, to quit smoking, cursing, stop being a liberal. Being a Christian is adopting principles and practices of men, to be like the world, but in the culture of Christianity.

Rather, God is working in this world. He speaks to people through movies, music, conversation, and much more. People outside the walls of the Christian world are thirsty for spiritual things. Everyone is concerned with the kingdom of God, whether they know it or not. Where do I come it. I'm sent by God to help others actualize and realize God in their life. Allow them to become followers of Christ in their culture, to their friends. These people become the church fluid.

I no longer need to worry about my outside appearence so much, creating constructs to follow so that my "witness" will be protected. I worry about following Jesus in my community, here at church and here at the apartments. Both need to be redeemed, both need Jesus. What does it look like? Genuine, real, ugly, broken and redeemed. Fun, exciting, mysterious, hard. It simply looks like life as a Jesus follower.

9 comments:

Richie said...

Yeah, I went through most of what you did. I think we all do. Yea, I have had people tell me how a Christian should behave. I have to be honest though, they are probably right. I shouldn’t drink beer, smoke, curse, yada yada yada, but I too learned that Christianity is not “not doing”, it is in doing. It is not only loving the “sinner” it is loving those who profess the same as you do but behave in a manner that may be appalling to one’s own beliefs. I have learned it is easier to deal with the non-Christian than the misbehaved “Cookie Cutter Christian”. I don’t mean the smoker or drinker but the one that is judgmental and hypocritical. I have also found that every person (to include Christians) I have ever met are judgmental and hypocritical (myself included). People don’t mean to be generally, they just are that way. Ya gotta love em! I think those inside the church walls are also thirsty.

I have a different approach. I hope that people see Christ in me through what I do, how I react, how I love.

Paul talks about not offending people by what we do (or not do). I tend to believe that whatever we do (or not do), we should do so because we are doing it in love, not as a requirement by the church (or secularism for that matter).

JoeBum said...

pragmatically speaking, does this work:
"I have a different approach. I hope that people see Christ in me through what I do, how I react, how I love."

I'm not saying this is you, but I know Christians that hope that because they do not curse, or do not listen to secular music, someone will ask them about why they are different. Then, of course, they present the gospel in some form or fashion. I've been there, done that. Pragmatically speaking though, does that bring people into the kingdom or keep them out?

Richie said...

I did not think you meant me Joe.

I know of those type of people that feel their 'witness' will draw people and that 'witness' is based on works and not a deep faith and love for God (like the stereotypes presented in the movie "Saved"). The impetus I suppose you experienced is a sort of sanctimony. My problem is not that people try and live righteously (even if it is superficial) but that leadership focuses on the 'right behavior' rather than a right heart. The former is simply a maturity issue whereas the latter is an image issue and if one focuses on image, the real problem (the heart) is never addressed.

Richie said...

"It simply looks like life as a Jesus follower."

How should that look?

"In the world, not of the world?"

I have my own ideas. What are yours Joe?

JoeBum said...

I have never understood our take on "in the world, not of the world." what does that mean to you?

Richie said...

Now wait a minute Joe, before I answer your question, answer mine.

You said, "It simply looks like life as a Jesus follower."

How is that supposed to look? Isn't there an expectation as a Christian to be different? Isn't Christ supposed to transform you?

JoeBum said...

TO be honest, i'm not sure, but i think this is a good thing. I know being different carries alot of baggage, becuase usually it means outside change. People are expected to change on the outside first, language, drinking, dress...to be middle class weterns, to be christ followers.

"It simply looks like life as a Jesus follower." what does that look like"

Christ is working on that one right now. The question itself is difficult to answer because it's liek what does life look like. Life looks likfe life, living, everyday breathing, in and out life. Except I want to put Jesus in the center of this everyday life.

I don't think that equates into ahving a "witness," but rather living out a life following Jesus. Loving more, being generous, gracious, etc. Yes, that means stopping sinning, but when it comes to thigns that are cultural sins (or whatever that is) than I don't put much emphasis on being "a perfect witness" in these things.

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