I’m thankful for the Bible. In it I find sustenance, empowerment, wisdom and the energy to be strong in Christ. That’s important to me right now. In these weeks running up to the Iowa caucusing, if I didn’t know better I’d wonder if every candidate out there isn’t somehow shifting his or her feet, fingers in the icy wind, deciding every ten minutes what they’ve always believed and stood for.
The incessant political yammering and hammering wearies me. It feels like their strategy is to just keep pounding on who I am and what I believe until I give in and say, “Oh, all right, fine.” I’d like to believe I am resolute enough in my core values; and that my Constitutionally conservative roots go deep enough that I’ll not be swayed by political wheedling, even by those I call friends.
This morning during quiet time I’ve been reading the last few verses in Romans 5 and the first 14 of chapter 6. I won’t bore you with Paul’s details, for his original writing has very little punctuation. Paul’s Greek, to quote my Southern brothers, just goes own ‘n’ own ‘n’ own. . .
The gist of his thinking is along the same lines as mine above. New life in Christ calls for living in newfound freedom and what The Message calls “the aggressive forgiveness we call grace“. I love that phrase, because it speaks directly to the view that Christians are boring, straitlaced dullards whose individuality and humor somehow get surgically removed when they seek salvation through Jesus Christ.
I’ll admit, some believers give that impression, suddenly becoming notable for what they DON’T do. I remember one pastor’s wife who was so strict in her interpretation of The Rules that she would cook all day Saturday so as to not be found doing ANYTHING on Sunday. Unfortunately, she’d also lost her ability to look attractive and smile. She was sincere, yet she drove people away from her, the church and from Christ. It would wound her to know it, but it was the truth.
Anyone who knows me understands I love to laugh. Given the slightest choice, I choose JOY and fun and goofing off. I enjoy great conversation, love to sit down over great food with close friends, and appreciate great jazz. I love, love, love to sing – especially after the possibility existed I might never do it again. I enjoy color, texture, manners and good grammar. ‘Positive’ flips my switch; I don’t hang with negative folks if I can help it. I’ll go a long way to accommodate friends and those I love, offering to them this “aggressive forgiveness we call grace“.
On the eve of this important voting event in our nation’s history, there is one thing I will not do: abandon the values by which I chose long ago to live my life. Some would say, “Well, yeah, you’re an ordained minister.” With respect, I’ve been a Christian much longer than I’ve been a minister. I decided upon the personal set of standards by which I live long before being ordained. I chose them for myself. In a day when it seems ‘compromise’ is expected, even encouraged, I will not.
I will love, give and serve in every way I’m able. I’ll show grace and understanding to all around me and work to authentically be the eyes, ears, voice, hands and arms of Jesus to any who need that. Yet I will not walk away from the strong values I embraced when I came to know Jesus as my Savior. They’re in place for a reason. To compromise and allow things in my life now that I know only weaken me to accommodate someone else’s opinion is to tell Him I don’t need Him any more.
It also tells them if I’ll cave on one point, I’ll likely do it on others. Those aren’t convictions. Those are appetites. As Chuck Swindoll once remarked, “A man is a simpleton, a fool if he knows what weakens him and feeds on it anyway.”
If I’m going to be judged a fool, I’d rather be seen as a fool for Christ. And I’m grateful to Paul for wrestling at length with something every one of us who professes Christ must tackle as well. Ultimately, I’m here to please Him. That’s my goal.
© D. Dean Boone, January 2016