Monday, November 12, 2007

Who's the Boss?

Is it possible that we've become so censorship-happy as a Christian culture in the United States that we've lost touch with the truth of transformed life in salvation? Have we cut ourselves off from the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit because we take our orders from pastors and evangelical politico-religious leaders? Are we living stunted Christian lives because of rules imposed on us through shame or intimidation or otherwise? "You shouldn't go trick-or-treating; you shouldn't have a Christmas tree; you shouldn't see R-rated movies; you shouldn't drink alcohol; you shouldn't read or see Harry Potter." Where is the Holy Spirit's role then in the life of the individual?

I don't know whether censorship or spiritual zombiness came first, but I believe we even interpret the Bible differently within this type of culture. Rather than truly believing (through attitude and action) that the Christian is a new creation and free from the grip of sin, we treat ourselves and one another like we're the same old person on the inside, just with a veneer of Christ's atonement to cover for our depraved nature. Why else would we tell each other "Don't read this; don't touch that; don't do this"? We see Christian maturity as avoiding a list of 'evils' throughout life and treating those who don't with repugnance or fear. But when we died with Christ at baptism, we were raised a new person, set free from the evil powers of this world, so why would we keep following the rules of this world, made up by the human mind? See Colossians 2:20-22. "You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 'Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!'? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them." In this new life, Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us (3:11).

So let the believer exercise his or her own ability to hear the Holy Spirit; in fact, let's encourage it! No Christian should be outside a community of brothers and sisters, so if they really start acting lost again, there is accountability. But we should not operate our lives under fear of coming under evil or sin, because the Christian is set free--no, more! God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities in the cross. If we are walking with the Holy Spirit, we can approach anything, be it Harry Potter or alcohol, without fear and with a sensitive conscience to whether God wants us to stay away from a particular thing. The individual, then, should be extremely careful about making God's yes or no to them a global rule. There are some universal rights and wrongs, and they all hinge on "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself." And operate in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We do not have a spirit of fear, but power, love, and self-discipline. And lest we forget what kind of power lines up with Christ's kingdom, Paul reminds us that God's power works in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

We then know we are completely remade through the power of God in Christ's resurrection, we have His Holy Spirit living in us to reveal His truth directly to us, and we are no longer subject to sin and the influence of evil (unless we participate in evil, and someone led by the Holy Spirit would not be led to participate in evil). Let us then train children and new believers in the same way. They do not need to fear evil, but listen to the Holy Spirit who can reveal truth and light anywhere.

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