A Church Defined By What It Is or Getting Away From Check List Christianity

            I am tired of hearing Christians define themselves by what they are not or by what they are against.  It has always interested me to see how quickly people are willing to start conversations with the negative points.  I believe it is a mistake to allow ones’ self to be defined by negative moments or negative beliefs.

            Jesus did not spend a lot of time dealing with the things God hates.  He was constantly confronted with people who were sinners and yet, except when He was dealing with the religious leaders who were corrupting the Temple, Jesus always showed mercy to those separated from God.  We never see Jesus on the corner preaching the good news that God is angry with you and you are therefore going to hell.

            Do not get me wrong—I certainly believe in heaven AND hell.  I certainly believe that only those who believe in Jesus are going to be admitted into heaven.  Paul talked about becoming all things to all men.  He was looking at what he knew of the life of Jesus.  Jesus met those who were trapped in their sins by setting them free.  He did not need to spend time telling them what they had done wrong—they certainly knew what their sin was.

            We have been tricked into believing that sinners no longer know they are sinners.  Part of the reason for this is that modern man is so big at flaunting their sin and acting as if God is dead.  What we fail to realize is that man has always been that way.

            God convicts man of his sin.  He speaks in the heart of all men.  We have to remember that God has placed eternity in every man’s heart.  We do not need to convince man of the hole, we have to convince man that only God will fill it.

            We have spent our time being against abortion.  I am not against abortion, we are for life.  We are against homosexuality.  I am not against homosexuality, I am for heterosexual relationships.  We are against Islam.  I am not against Islam, I am for Jesus.  I am not against sickness, I am for health.

            Jesus is not anti-darkness—He is light!  Jesus is not anti-wickedness, he is righteousness!

            I think the reason Jesus never spoke on the issue of homosexuality is that He knew that if men would come into right relationship with God they would not behave in improper ways.  In the presence of God sin flees, not because someone is screaming against sin, but because sin does not exist in the same space as God.

            I think our approach to sin and dwelling on what we are not is the main reason we have a check list Christian culture.  We do not drink, unless we are in Europe where it is acceptable.  We have to wear the right clothes. We have to read the right version.  We have to attend the right services.

            In other words, check list Christianity does not worry so much about what we are as it does about what we look like.  I have known pastors who were adamant that they believed drinking was a sin—at least until we arrived in France and everybody, including the Christians was drinking.

            I am not arguing the finer points of Baptist theology here.  There are many reasons not to drink—but I daresay that no one at the wedding in Canaan was arguing about those finer points.

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5 Responses to “A Church Defined By What It Is or Getting Away From Check List Christianity”


  1. 1 Detrick Redding 18 January 2010 at 12:48 am

    This is an awesome blog. I agree wholeheartedly. God is just confirming His word. I have been teaching the importance of being the light in this dark world and even today we discussed that Jesus was light to this world not by criticizing but by offering an alternative to the way the people in darkness were living. We are called to be light and not anti darkness!

  2. 2 naikuu 27 January 2010 at 9:59 pm

    while i agree with you, i must say that psalm 45 says that Jesus hates wickedness… He is wholeheartedly against it.
    proverbs 8 and psalms 97 also say that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil, and that those who love Yahweh will hate evil.

    i do agree that fasting from things, or even refraining from things is not just enough. the main point of your post is right – it’s not enough to just be against things. it’s about what we’re for. it’s not about running from darkness, it’s about being in the light. being in the light will bring about a clearer discernment of darkness, and the light of God outshines the darkness. but we must hate the darkness, we must hate evil in the fear of the Lord as well.
    for You have loved righteousness, and hated wickedness. Therefore God, Your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
    Psalm 45/Hebrews 1

  3. 3 naikuu 27 January 2010 at 10:00 pm

    while i agree with you, i must say that psalm 45 says that Jesus hates wickedness… He is wholeheartedly against it.
    proverbs 8 and psalms 97 also say that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil, and that those who love Yahweh will hate evil.

    i do agree that fasting from things, or even refraining from things is not just enough. the main point of your post is right – it’s not enough to just be against things. it’s about what we’re for. it’s not just what we empty ourselves of, it’s what we fill ourselves with,. it’s not about running from darkness, it’s about being in the light. being in the light will bring about a clearer discernment of darkness, and the light of God outshines the darkness. but we must hate the darkness, we must hate evil in the fear of the Lord as well.
    for You have loved righteousness, and hated wickedness. Therefore God, Your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
    Psalm 45/Hebrews 1

  4. 4 Mark2A 23 February 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Joel – While I think I understand the context in which you were referring to when you said “I am not against abortion, we are for life. We are against homosexuality. I am not against homosexuality, I am for heterosexual relationships”, I must say that most of us take that logic the other way. I actually had this conversation with several politically and religiously liberal friends of mine (of which one is gay) and they (4 of them) basically told me that if you are for heterosexual relationships only – then you are (referring to me) a homophobes and thus anti-homosexual. Same with abortion – if you say you are for life – then that makes you anti (or against) abortion – therefore, I am no different than the evangelicals that picket and carry signs. So, though I think it is nice and good to appear to be NOT anti this or “anti” that – you can’t split hairs. It’s like the adage that either you are “for us or against us” and that is way that most people think. Even Jesus said “narrow is the way.”
    BTW – I really enjoy your posts/blog.

    • 5 joelthornton 24 February 2010 at 3:08 am

      Mark, I understand where you are coming from. Thanks for reading and maybe any one who believes that homosexuality is okay is a Christianphobe and anti-Jesus. Just some food for thought. As to abortion, I am anti-murder, and will not apologize for believing we all have a right to not be randomly killed.


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