Your Morality Should Not Be Moralism   1 comment

There is a difference, but it is one that the modern churches don’t seem to understand.

Christians practice morality for two reasons.

The first is because we are grateful to God for His loving care toward us, for what He chose to do on the cross so that we could be right with Him. Our “good” behavior did not earn us salvation because there is no way we could ever be good enough to match the goodness of God. He did it for us because we couldn’t do it for ourselves. And it was no easy thing. The sinless God, Who absolutely hates sin, left the perfection of His spiritual realm to take on human flesh, struggle with the weakness toward sin, and then die on the cross and take on the sins of every human being that had ever lived or ever would live, so that every individual who chooses to accept that sacrifice can be forgiven and eventually enter into God’s eternal realm where there will be no sin. Imagine coating yourself in something you consider to be vile for the love of folks who mostly reject what you’re offering? That’s the love God showed toward us and for those of us who have accepted it, our applause for what God has done for us is that we make disciples for Him wherever we go. We do that in part by living moral lives by His standards of morality.

The second reason we live moral lives is that the world is watching us. Regardless of what the world says about our morality, make no mistake, they judge God by how well we keep that morality. Even as they say “Quit struggling and live like us”, they watch to see if what we believe has any positive impact upon our lives. When we live just like the world, the world judges that and finds God wanting. If God really has power to change lives, they think, then His transformative power would be evident in the lives of His followers.

Regardless of what they say, that’s what they’re thinking (I used to be one of them, I know).

BUT …

There is a difference between morality and moralism. There are things I don’t do because God has assured me they are not good for me and there are things that I don’t do because God has assured me they are not good for others. Conversely, there are things I do because God has assured me they’re good for me and things I do because God has assured me that what I do will be seen by others and have a positive effect upon them. That’s morality, which involves fleeing immorality to embrace Christlike living. Fleeing immorality can look different from Christian to Christian, which we will discuss later, but whenever the Bible speaks on something definitely, we should not argue with God, but do what we know to be right.

And, yes, sometimes God asks us to do things that are difficult and uncomfortable or to not do things that are pleasurable and fun. That’s another topic.

Christians live in this world, but are not of this world. We’re still human. Our flesh still desires the comforts and pleasures that our neighbors enjoy, but our God requires that we live different lives from the society around us. Why? Because it will be noticed, whether or not we are even aware of it. Jesus even told us in John that the world will hate us because we follow Him and if the world hates us for reflecting Jesus, we should not be ashamed.

For the first three centuries of Christianity, Christians understood this. Often persecuted, always considered less-than outsiders, Christians lived in this world but were not of it. During those 300 years, the Christian population grew from less than 200 in Jerusalem to more than one-quarter of the population of the Greco-Roman world. How? If you look at history, it was definitely not through the sword. Christians had no power. What they did have was love, but not the phony “love” today’s society wants to see. While not excusing the sin around them, they gave selflessly to the society they lived in.

An example? In Rome, Christians were accused of spreading the plague. They might have actually been partially responsible. When plague broke out, the Roman officials sealed off entire neighborhoods to try and control the spread. No food went in, no one came out. Christians would volunteer to go into these plague-ridden areas to feed people, to care for the sick, to dispose of the bodies. I’m sure many of them got sick too and as disease-transmission was not well understood at the time, they may have been accidentally responsible for the spread, but consider what they were doing. They were volunteering to go into a no-man’s land to carry God’s love into dark places — they were risking their own lives to care for others. Some of the survivors, impressed by this, became Christians.

This was how Christianity grew in the early days, before the Church had the power of the state behind it. Not only did it do charity among those society had written off, it rescued the children Romans abandoned to the element and lived lives that were different enough from those around them that some people found it attractive.

After the loosely affiliated churches reformed into the Roman Catholic Church, things changed. Instead of showing their light before the world so that the world either hated them or were attracted to them, the Church had the power to order people to become (nominal) Christians. Of course, they weren’t really Christians, because Christianity is an inward transformation that is evidenced by a moral life, not a series of rituals and regulations that your body follows to please some moral code. And, we’re still in that mode, folks! It’s been 1700 years and we’re still thinking we can change the world by changing how people act.

We can’t. Paul warned us that we can’t in Galatians, Corinthians, Romans and Philippians. You can’t make dead people alive by forcing them to live moral lives, because living moral lives is not what made us alive. The grace of God imparted by the death of Jesus on the cross did that. How can we believe that we are saved by grace through the blood of Jesus and not of ourselves (which would only make us boastful), and think that somehow we can set moral standards for the world around us and drag them along to heaven with us?

Worse, however, is that we think if we make the world just moral enough, we can mostly live like the world and that will be fine with God. Then we wonder why the churches aren’t growing and our children profess faith as children and then walk away from the church as young adults.

The churches today, in the United States at least, have become social clubs for prudes, bossy-bosses, and the unnaturally happy. We talk a good talk, but in reality, we don’t look substantially different from the world around us. We get divorced at about the same rate as the world. Our children have premarital sex at about the same rate. Our remarriage rate after divorce is actually higher than the society around us. Why are we shocked that there are churches that now think God is fine with homosexuality? Will we be shocked when in the next generation, churches begin to accept polyamory and, eventually, paedaphilia? All of these activities existed in abundance in the 1st century world that Paul ministered in — in the society surround the churches at Corinth, Thessalonica, and Rome. Paul, writing in God’s authority, told these Christians to flee immorality.

And, the churches grew by leaps and bounds even as the world hated them.

One response to “Your Morality Should Not Be Moralism

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  1. Reblogged this on aurorawatcherak.

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