I was raised in a world of black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, us versus them. Granted, my parents were more tolerant than a lot of the super-conservative, homeschooling families I knew, but the atmosphere was still there. And, it didn’t help that I naturally tend to think this way anyway.
Let me give you some examples. Yikes!
Wrong and bad things (in no particular order): dating, college, women wearing pants, public school, blue jeans, bearded men, women with short hair, being friends with the opposite sex, Disney movies, any movie rated more than PG, movie theaters, white bread, pork, music with a “back-beat” (e.g. rock and roll, CCM, country, etc.) tattoos, multiple piercings … you get the point.
Good and right things (contrasted to the bad ones): courtship, women in skirts and dresses, homeschooling, khaki slacks (for males), clean shaven faces, women with long, flowing, gently curled hair, sticking with friends of your own gender, movies rated G and PG that weren’t Disney (preferably old fashioned ones), homemade whole wheat bread, beef and chicken, classical music or instrumental hymns, one set of small stud earrings for females only, blah, blah, blah.
Okay, you might think that’s extreme. You might be asking what this has to do with “normal” Christians.
Here is what I have noticed. Christians, even “normal” ones, are often terrible at living in the real gray world. We choose sides and endlessly fight about stupid issues that aren’t even that important in the long run. We alienate people with our feisty opinions about politics, abortion, homosexuality, the End Times, Calvinism, debt, divorce, health care, etc. Before you get upset with me for labelling some of those topics of “stupid issues,” let me say that I believe in personal opinions and convictions based on Biblical truths. But, our convictions and opinions should never be stronger than our love for people and our desire to see them meet Jesus.
If we have truly met Jesus in a real and personal way, if we have experienced His amazing grace and forgiveness, if we are overwhelmed by His love for us, then there should be one and only one issue that motivates us. Sharing the real Jesus with the world!
I’m sure as you’ve read this, other “hot topics” have popped into your mind. It’s not that I don’t have opinions about things like breastfeeding, organic foods, school options, political leanings, abortion, and gay marriage. I just realize that my opinions and beliefs don’t make me more or less “godly.” I’m okay with not being “right.” I know that there is only one thing that changes my status before the God of the Universe: what I choose to believe about Jesus.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:17-18
Too often Christians forget that God didn’t rescue us so that we would be “perfect.” He made us blameless through Jesus so that we can have a relationship with Him.
Why do we get so caught up with trying to change peoples’ actions and beliefs to make them look “more Christian” instead of teaching them to know Jesus so that He can change them from the inside out as He sees fit? Do we doubt the power of the Holy Spirit? Do we forget that He is real?
Why do we put so much value on “outward” goodness while ignoring our own inner struggles and sins? What if all Christians set aside the things that divide us and chose to help each other really get to know Jesus? What if our love for Jesus and our passion to share Him with everyone around us was stronger than our differences? What if we cared more about Jesus than about being right?
There are some “black and white” truths in the Bible and in the Christian life, but there is also a lot of gray. We need to welcome the gray even if it scares us and makes us uncomfortable. That gray area is where freedom happens and where our relationship with Jesus grows. There is room for gray because there is room for growth and change.
About Christy Wood
Christy Wood is a youth pastor’s wife, mother of two, and lover of Jesus, hater of legalism, blogger, and hopeful author. After spending her teens in a legalistic Christian cult, Christy is passionate about the truth and about helping people find genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. She blogs at www.letmebefoolish.com.