September 28, 2010

Being a Christian Ain't Easy! (Part 1)

I started reading my New Testament looking for some requirements for Christians.  In Matthew 5, Jesus does indeed give some “rules” for living a Christian life. Then I got to the 48th verse and read the killer command, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.” Perfect, are you kidding? Sin and imperfection  greets us at every corner. After re-reading the Sermon on the Mount, it became painfully obvious that I for one could not be “perfect.” Consider the following.

Matt 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment, ...anyone who says , 'You fool,’ will be in danger of the fire of hell!” I suspect I will have a lot of company in the fires of hell, if those who are angry with his brother ( and presumably his sister as well) are subject to judgment.

Matt 5:28. “But I (Jesus) tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery
with her in his heart.”  I know a lot of teenage boys and girls who are going to have to answer for those raging hormones. This includes those of us who are not teenagers now, but were at one time or still feel like we are.  No one will escape this admonition.

Matt 5:43 “You have heard it said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemies. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...” Now that is hard.  Sometimes I feel I don’t hate my
enemies, I just don’t like them very much.  But pray for them? You mean pray for them like I pray for my children or my family or for those who are precious to me? You’ve got to be kidding! For more “rules” re-read all of Matthew 5,6 and 7.  If you read it and really think about it, you will slink away and hide hoping God can’t find you.

But then the apostle Paul writes in Romans, (3:28) “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” Phew, that’s a relief after reading those "rules" in Matthew. Now I can live with that bit of good news. I'm a sinner but I can escape the fires of hell if I have faith.  I can do that!

Unfortunately, James, the brother of Jesus, who was the unquestioned leader of the early Jesus followers in Jerusalem, didn’t see the matter of faith quite that way. In the book of James, he had this to say about the faith. (2:14) “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? (2:17) In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (2:24) You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.”

Before we get frustrated and just forget this Christianity stuff because it's too hard and, in fact, impossible, let’s take a step back. First of all, Paul quotes Old Testament passages in Romans 3:10-12. “There is none righteous, not even one... All have turned away.... there is no one who does good not even one.” No one, are you sure? What about Billy Graham or Mother Teresa, or my preacher; No one, are you sure?  So we are all going into the fires of hell. I’m not alone in this mess. Why not just eat, drink and make merry for tomorrow we will all die and all go to Hell. 

In my next post, “Is it really hopeless”, we will look at this dilemma and explore whether all is lost and there is no hope.  Let me say briefly, All is not lost, there is hope and Jesus, Paul and James were all correct.

(all references are to the NIV translation of the Bible)


  1. I just wanted to comment on this blog as I have struggled to live the holy life that God has created us to be neither looking to the left or the right but straight ahead.I have come to the same conclusion as this blog who can live up to God's perfect standard? We cannot but Jesus lived that perfect life for us.It's a gift Jesus has given us His perfect righteousness!!!because He never sinned and was worthy of being a sacrificial atonement for all of creation by His death, burial, and resurrection!But paul writes we should not take God's grace for granted 1cor6:9-11 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanders nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of god And that is what some of you were but you were washed,you were sanctified,you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.-The question who then can be saved? The answer to me is this: By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the power of the promised Holy Spirit-Jesus promises we will overcome the world 1John5:4 His commands are not burdensome- to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

  2. Boy, I was with you until that last sentence. It is hard to fully love God and next to impossible to love our neighbors. That's the whole point! We can't do it on our own. That's what Paul was saying when he said he knew what the right thing was but he could not do it. (Romans7:19)
    Because we can't be good enough or perfect enough, we need someone to take the punishment for our sins. Only when the price or punishment for our sins is paid can we enter into the Family of God and take our place as heirs to the Kingdom.
    (I appreciate your comments. If you feel comfortable enough email me and maybe we can start a conversation.)


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