Rules aren’t Christianity

I saw an info-graphic type deal on Facebook today that, to sum it up, said ethics is not something one has to be a Christian to have. That’s a fact. But, that the argument has to be made at all shows that we Christians are somehow proposing that only Christians can be truly ethical.

That’s just not true.

And it’s fairly easy to empirically show that it’s not true. (Do I really have to waste precious space explaining that non-Christians do good things, too?) So the question becomes why we would be so vested in spreading the lie.

I’m glad you asked.

We espouse Christianity as a life of rules one must follow to appease a watching, angry God. Therefore, our faith is then about doing moral things. And if that’s the case (and it’s not), then how moral we are dictates how close we are to God. So, to imagine a world where a non-believer can be just as moral as a Christian seems ludicrous because “being better” is the domain of Christians.

That’s a corruption of the message of the Bible, but if one believes it then it becomes crucial to think the falsehood that non-believers cannot be moral.

There are lots of non-Christian jerks, and there are lots of Christian jerks. (The fact that there are lots—and lots—of Christian jerks alone should bear witness to the fact that we believers don’t have an ethical leg up on anyone else.) Ethics are everywhere…

…And ethics is not the message of Christianity.

The above is a message of fear, and faith in Jesus is the opposite of that.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:18-19

The Christian faith is about love. To put a finer point on it—God’s love. The message that Jesus gave for us to tell has zero to do with our own morality or ethics. As a matter of fact, it is a message which demolishes any notion we might have that our goodness means a thing (and that’s part of the reason we hate the message of grace). The Good News of Jesus only makes sense after one understands the very bad news that our very nature separates us from God and that there is nothing you or I can do to earn God’s love. But that’s why God came. That’s why Jesus chose crucifixion and shame—his great, ridiculous love for us.

-Chad

Photo used under CC

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