Monday, October 5, 2015

Question 4: Is Christianity Too Narrow?

It can be Good to be Too Narrow for the World!

Is Christianity too narrow? I wonder why this is even a question? I think it is because people don’t understand Christianity. When I was a kid Christianity was too narrow because “people said” we didn’t believe in drinking, dancing and dipping. I was a bit confused because there were folks in my church who drank, danced and dipped! But I got the point. “Good Christians” weren’t supposed to do those things. I don’t hear those things anymore. Now days the church is narrow because it doesn’t support gay marriage and doesn’t think Islam or Hinduism or some other ism is another way to God. Basically the church is Narrow because it is not Tolerant!

     Now, Are their intolerant people in the church? You betcha! Is some of our intolerance a problem? Yes it is! When we are intolerant of people in a “personal” way because of their race, creed or color- that’s a problem. When I say we shouldn’t be intolerant I mean of their existence, their personal value, their freedom and their functioning in society.
     But, Is there a time to be intolerant? Absolutely! When somebody starts shooting at people, don’t tolerate it. If somebody commits a violent crime, lock them away.  Is that what Society means by ‘intolerant’? Well, not always. Sometimes they tell us that being intolerant is simply “disagreeing” with them.
     How many of you were intolerant with your children when they were growing up? How many of you think I was? If you ask did I lock them up? Well, I may have grounded them a time or two. But I didn’t lock them up. But If you ask, did I disagree with their ideas, choices and lifestyle? You Bet I did! Narrow-minded! Absolutely!
If one of my children got the idea that back-talking their mother was an acceptable practice they learned the full strength of my intolerance! I might have even made them fearful for their safety a time or two. If my children got the idea that running across the street without looking both ways was a good idea, they would learn quickly that I did not tolerate that behavior? Does that make me narrow-minded and intolerant? No doubt about it!
     Now I’m sure many people will agree and say, “Absolutely, when raising children we should teach them rules of safety and respect and hygiene and how to read and write etc. etc. But that’s not the same as being tolerant with your neighbor!” And they have a valid point. My neighbor is not my child! But it is still evidence that there is a place for narrow-mindedness in life as in raising kids. I’m also narrow-minded about folks who drink and drive!
     So, what about training society? Do we do that? Yes, we do. We have trained society not to judge people on the basis of color. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen! But as a society we have taught each other it is not acceptable. But that's narrow minded thinking! It is saying that thinking outside the box of anti-racism, you’re wrong. And That is “Good” narrow-mindedness!

We have been on a campaign for many years against Drinking and driving. We have toughened up our laws, we have organisations like MADD! We say “Drunk driving is bad!” For the person who likes to drive with a buzz that’s pretty narrow thinking! But we consider it a Good kind of narrow-mindedness! Here’s the bottom line. The reason people don’t like narrow-mindedness is when you make a truth claim that they do not agree with.
The civil rights movement helped people get on board with saying racism is bad. Some people disagreed and pushed back. But they have not been tolerated! They are looked down on, openly criticized! So Now, saying we should treat all people as equal doesn’t threaten most people. We still have a long way to go but we have come a long way, too!
But start talking about the claims of Jesus you get Push Back! Not when Jesus says love each other, they’re good with that. And they Really like Jesus calling religious people hypocrites, which he did! But Jesus also said John 14:6, …I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.
Jesus also said marriage was between male & female. (Mt 19:4-5)
Jesus also said repentance from Sin is required for salvation! (Mt 4:17, Lu13:3) And on top of all that, it’s not just the Red-letter words of Jesus in the gospels that guide us! Since Jesus is God in the flesh, the Whole Word of God is the Word of Christ!
But MOST of the truths fron the Bible, and the truths Christians proclaim from God’s Word, are not accepted by the culture around us! So they call US intolerant! They won’t tolerate us!
(If it turns out to be true that this shooting in Oregon had something to do with killing Christians, it might just be the beginning of More of this kind of treatment in the US. I’m just waiting for a news person to say, “Well after all, it’s Christians who are the least tolerant of other folks.”)
     The fact is there are some narrow minded Christians -  and I mean that in the bad sense of the word. They don’t like foreigners, gays, liberals, or anti-gun advocates and they think we ought to run them off! But they aren’t the only ones! There are Muslims who are intolerant of everyone who is A) Not a Muslim or B) not part of their sect of Islam, or C) not as Muslim as they ought to be! I don’t know much about Buddhists (although there are buudhist monks in Burma protesting equal rights for all religions),  but there are Secular Humanists who think ANYONE who believes in God is unsafe and ought to be locked up. So if Somebody makes a truth claim Somebody Else doesn’t agree with in our society, then “Intolerance” is pretty much Status Quo! 

Because, more important than being “tolerant” in our society, is not allowing anyone to step on what You believe is truth! (think about that)
    There are 4 basic views of truth in society today.
1st -the only thing that’s true is that which you can prove scientifically, beyond any significant doubt.    
2nd -truth is whatever you or society makes it. Whats true in your life or culture isn’t necessarily true in another culture. Killing people is wrong here, but maybe not in another culture.     
3rd Truth is whatever works. it’s a pragmatic view of truth. If it works it works! Don’t worry about it!     
4th truth is just a way to control people. When people make truth claims they are trying to control you! It’s a Power Play!
Some people hold all of these at the same time! If it is convenient to accept scientific truth, great. 
If something else achieves what you want, great, whatever works! 
If someone makes a truth claim that cramps your style, reject it. Hey, Its YOUR truth!
Works pretty good right? Except for one thing: 
What if there is objective truth, beyond science, beyond culture, and is true for everyone, everywhere, always? That is what the Bible teaches!
Listen to these verses:

   There are many reasons the Church is too narrow! We get many things wrong. 
The reason Christianity is Narrow, the reason Jesus Christ is narrow is because He is The Truth. And if something disagrees with Truth- Logically- it HAS to be False.
So, The 1st Reason it’s Good to be Narrow: God’s Word is Truth!  We may not like the truth but we need to be saved! Lies don’t save. Saying Evil is good and good is evil is not going to help! “…know the truth and the truth shall set you free!” (Jn 8:32) We are sanctified – set apart for God – By Truth!
The 2nd Reason it is Good to be Narrow: Truth is A Person! Jesus is the Truth! When we introduce people to Jesus, it needs to be the Jesus of the Bible! He’s not the Jeannie in a Bottle Jesus who gives you whatever you want to make life easy.  He’s not the Santa Claus Jesus who only brings presents and never makes any demands. He’s not the Rainbow Jesus who accepts everything you have ever done as just Fine as long as you love people. He’s not the Republican Jesus. He’s not the Democrat Jesus. He’s Lord of the Universe, King of Kings and He is coming again! He will tell some people to enter in to His Father’s Kingdom but say to the majority, Depart from me, I never knew you!
     When Jesus stood before Pilate in Jn 18 Pilate asked Jesus if he was a King; He said,  “Thou sayest I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause I came into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. (and) Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this..."  At This point I wish it said, "And when he had said this he stared searchingly into the eyes of Jesus, truly desiring to know the answer to his question." But, alas, that's not what it says.
 "And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews…".
     The Truth was Standing right in front of him. 
         But he didn’t even wait around for an answer. 
Do you want to know the Truth? Jesus is the Truth and His word is Truth!
 And the Truth WILL set you free!

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