10 things you can't do
By Kevin Haug
Originally posted Jan. 22, 2014, at Country Preacher’s Corner. Republished with permission of the author.
I've seen this article “10 Things You Can't Say While Following Jesus” numerous times. There's a couple of others this particular author has written in the same vein of thought. There are other bloggers who have given their lists of things Christians should or shouldn't say as well. Most of the battles we fight in the name of Christ center on the things we are supposed to do or say. If you say these things or do these things, then you aren't a Christian! Well, at least that's the implication. Because, even though not explicitly stated, the logic goes:
These are 10 things you can't say while following Jesus.
If you say these things, then you aren't following Jesus.
What is at the heart of these lists? What do they really promote?
Yours truly sees them as another incarnation of works/righteousness. Yours truly sees them as attempts — sometimes good ones — to come up with a list of behaviors that if followed will draw people to the church; will draw people to God. If others see us behaving in just the right way and saying the right things, then they will come to believe in God, and our pews will be full, and we will have another Great Awakening in the American Christianity.
If we do the right things, then we will receive the blessings.
But that's not how it works.
You see, I'll give you a quick “10 Things You Can't Do While Following Jesus” — all taken from Jesus' sermon on the mount. Let's see how well you do in mastering this list:
1. You can't be angry with a "brother or sister." (Matthew 5:22)
2. You can't look at another person and have sexual thoughts about that person. (Matthew 5:28)
3. You can't swear. (Matthew 5:34)
4. You can't resist an evildoer (murderer, rapist, mugger, etc.). (Matthew 5:39)
5. You can't have any hatred toward someone you consider an enemy. (Matthew 5:44)
6. You can't be imperfect. (Matthew 5:48)
7. You can't let anyone (including the IRS) know you've given to charity. (Matthew 6:3-4)
8. You can't save up wealth (for retirement or children or anything else). (Matthew 6:19)
9. You can't worry. (Matthew 6:31)
10. You can't seek anything but the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:33)
How's that? Did you do well? Kind of puts all those other top 10 lists to shame because this list is straight from the Master himself. And if you are like me, you haven't accomplished a single one of them. You may have a few moments from time to time of accomplishing them, but invariably, you will break each and every one of them over and over and over again.
Does this mean you don't follow Jesus? Does this mean if you were able to actually do these things, people would be attracted to God through you? No. Not in the least.
Christianity isn't about what you do or don't do!
Wait. That needs more emphasis.
CHRISTIANITY ISN'T ABOUT WHAT YOU DO OR DON'T DO!
CHRISTIANITY IS ABOUT WHAT GOD HAS DONE!
There, I feel better.
Christianity is about recognizing that we miss the mark. We don't have all the answers. We don't measure up to the standards of Jesus.
Yet, "God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us."
This is the core of what Christianity is about. It's about grace. In fact, when you know you don't measure up, it doesn't surprise you that you say the wrong things; you do the wrong things; you miss opportunities. You realize you are sinful; you realize your weakness; you realize God uses that weakness to ram home his message of grace.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
If you wish to get caught up in all the “10 Things You Can't Say While Following Jesus” or the “10 Things You Can't Believe About Christmas” or the “10 Things You Can't Do While Following Jesus,” then I'd suggest you've missed the point about Christianity.
Rethink grace. Rethink God's love for you. Then ponder how you may be called to share that love with others — without lists but instead with a Leader you are called to imitate.
Find a link to Kevin Haug’s blog Country Preacher’s Corner at Lutheran Blogs.