First of all, I would like to say thank you! Thanks for the feedback and the way you all handled the topic! In the year that CGL has been running I have gotten some pretty nasty feedback so, to be honest, I was already expecting it on such a controversial topic. But it didn’t happen!
Secondly, I would like to cover another topic that has been on my mind and that I have discussed with some people partly because of that article: Our rules vs. God’s rules. Something I have noticed is that those two seem to get confused quite often.
The way we define our rules vs. God’s rules is very simple. Our rules are rules or standards based on what we have personally gotten through the Scriptures and cannot prove to be God’s rules or standards for everyone. God’s rules are rules or standards that are clearly stated in the Bible as being God’s rule or standard.
To put it in simple terms you could say that “thou shall not murder” is one of God’s rules, while “thou shall not listen to rock music” is one of our standards. One is clearly stated in the Bible (Exodus 20:13, Mathew 22:39) and the other can be inferred based on your interpretation of the Bible and your opinions about the world.
Now, any command, standard, or rule given to us by God must be obeyed. It is a sin not to obey the commands of God. However, a standard or rule that we have made is not necessarily a sin to break (more on that in a bit). The former is clearly meant for all people to follow and the former is based on individual convictions.
This is where people sometimes get lost. There is this idea that if I read the Bible and I got this out of it, then this must be a rule everyone should follow. See the problem there? That statement has a lot of “I” in it. We like to treat God like He is locked in a box sometimes. Like He is locked in the “me” box. We expect Him to treat every person exactly the same way no matter what. The problem with that line of thought is that we are all different!
God may convict each of us of different things for different reasons. Maybe He convicts some of us about listening to rock music because He knows we are not strong enough to resist the temptation to listen to bad music. Is it fair that everyone should not be allowed to listen to that music because one person isn’t strong enough to handle it?
Or maybe it isn’t even about our strength. What if there was one person in the world that God knew you would have the chance to witness too but that wouldn’t listen to you at all if they heard you listening to rock music? Should everyone be stopped from listening to it because one person needs to not have it around? What about the millions of people reached by Christian rock every year?
I use music as an example because it is one thing I have heard about a lot of people being convicted about but this can apply to much more. Tattoos, movies, dancing, attire, and many more topics are about personal convictions and not God’s rules for everyone.
Something that made me think about this recently was a conversation with a friend. He told me that he did not want certain people to know he went to the movie theater because he knew that they would be offended. Even though there is no Biblical evidence to back up the claim that going to a movie theater is a sin he felt the need to hide the activity from some of his Christian friends because they felt it was.
Do you see the issue here? When did we, as Christians, become so wrapped up in what we believe that we have forced our brothers and sisters in Christ to feel the need to hide activities that we deem sinful? This isn’t healthy and it sure isn’t Biblical!
Romans 14 is a whole chapter dedicated to telling us how to handle differences of conviction. Verse 3 says, “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.” Replace the word “eat” with “listens”, “goes”, “gets”, or whatever! If you believe in doing something I feel convicted not to do I am not to judge you and you should not look down on me!
Verse 14 goes on to say, “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” In other words, nothing (tattoos, music, theaters, etc) is sinful in and of itself but if you are convicted that it is sinful then to you it is! Furthermore, verse 16 tells us this, “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil.” So, if you have a disagreement on something (let’s use the example of music again), if you believe it is wrong for you to listen to rock music, then you are not to act like it is a sin for everyone else to listen to it! And I, as a rock listener, am not supposed to let you convince me that it is sinful!
At the risk of becoming long winded I want to make one more point. I think our obsession with our own rules is what is distracting us from following God’s rules. It appears to me that we may be so caught up in teaching our own convictions as law that we are neglecting to teach, or distracting from, God’s true law. Why is the CCM (Christian contemporary music) argument such a big deal? Why do youth groups focus so much on separating boys from girls as much as possible? Why do we argue about seeing movies in theaters?
I had a discussion with a close friend today about how he thinks homosexuality may have been encouraged by Christian youth groups being so overly strict about interactions between the opposite genders. I wonder sometimes if pornography isn’t such an epidemic in Christian circles because people are too busy teaching/struggling to follow all of our rules to worry about teaching/following God’s rules. It appears we are the crippling God’s Kingdom by trying to pass laws about living in it!
It is time we step down from the pedestal of thinking that our every conviction is God’s law. It is time we realize that God already gave us His law in the Bible. Anything beyond that is a conviction in our personal lives.
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