Following Christ is hard. Living the Christian life well is hard. The Bible is filled with hard teachings. We are called to love others, even those who hate us.
There have been times during the course of history when the call to love and to love well and to love everyone was considered the ultimate goal of Christianity. That love alone trumps every other truth of the Bible. And, if it were true that we could boil down the whole Bible to the simple truth: Love others, then Christianity might not be quite so hard to live out. If we could say that nothing matters more than loving others, then we would never be hated. We would never have to say hard things to one another. We would never have to speak truth that is unpopular.
But, the Bible has one other major command in it that cannot be ignored. The command is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And that command, to love God with all we have an all we are, demands that we are obedient to our Father. It means that we wrestle with our sins. It means that we stand up for the truth of His word. It means that we sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron, using the word of God to guide our every choice, every motive.
The Ten Commandments were handed down to Moses, not just to give us a set of rules follow, but to give us a clear way to see how far we are from the holiness of a perfect God, to show us how much we need a Savior in Jesus Christ. And, when Jesus arrived, He made it so clear that it isn’t the “rules” that matter, but the spirit behind the rules, which is one of total obedience, complete surrender to the God who loves us, who saves us, and, yes, who demands that we turn away from our sin and reach for a better way of living. A huge part of that way of living is loving others. But, there is much more to it. And, the other stuff? It’s a lot more involved that just saying “I love you.” It is laying down your life for others. It is laying down your life before a holy God, chasing Jesus’ example of living with love, with reverence for God, with hatred for sin, with humility of spirit, and with the knowledge that we are unworthy of His care and blessings. This way of living is being unpopular, even hated, for trying to kill off the sin in our lives, and it is being scorned for saying that we should.
And that is why Christianity is hard.
I know many who read this will laugh, scoff, tell me I’m ignorant, uneducated, naïve, brainwashed, and who knows what else. But, there is one authority in my life: the Word of God. So, throw stones as you see fit. My God can take it.
And, with His strength, I can, too.
You’ve been on my heart. The Spirit brought Galatians 6:9 to mind as I prayed for you this morning: “Let Melissa not lose heart in doing good, for in due time she will reap if she doesn’t grow weary.” Keep shining your light, Melissa! I don’t know you in real life (ha), but I admire your courage and am cheering you on! Hugs!
Tammy, I can’t thank you enough for your prayers and encouragement!
I agree with the general thrust of what you say but I do think that as Christians we have got Exodus 20 and ‘The Ten Commandments’ badly wrong. This is from a Judaism site and reflects the Jewish view:
‘In the Torah, these words are never referred to as the Ten Commandments. In the Torah, they are called Aseret ha-D’varim (Ex. 34:28, Deut. 4:13 and Deut. 10:4). In rabbinical texts, they are referred to as Aseret ha-Dibrot. The words d’varim and dibrot come from the Hebrew rootDalet-Beit-Reish, meaning word, speak or thing; thus, the phrase is accurately translated as the Ten Sayings, the Ten Statements, the Ten Declarations, the Ten Words or even the Ten Things, but not as the Ten Commandments, which would be Aseret ha-Mitzvot.
The Aseret ha-Dibrot are not understood as individual mitzvot; rather, they are categories or classifications of mitzvot. Each of the 613 mitzvot can be subsumed under one of these ten categories, some in more obvious ways than others.’
However we might quote them on church walls, the fact is that Gentile churches do not attempt to follow the 4th. one and enact all the Shabbat observances on Friday night through to Saturday.night. Nor as Gentiles are we required to do so. Torah was part of the Mosaic Covenant between God and Jews. We are subject as humans to the Noahic Covenant as in Genesis 9:
As stated this is quite sparse:
4 ‘But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
6 ‘Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.
We can surmise that worshipping the one true God was assumed.
Acts 15 defines only four things for Gentile bleievers:
28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. NIV. (Interestingly ‘porneia’ used for the last named in ordinary Greek actually means something seriously wrong and not necessarily specifically sexual in nature so could encompass murder, robbery etc.)
This is actually very similar to Genesis 9 and cuts the ‘do nots’ down considerably from the 613 Mitzvot based on the ’10 Statements’ which are incumbent on Jews. Note also that if the common meaning of ‘porneia’ is adopted, Acts 15 encompasses the murder of Genesis 9 which is otherwise strangely missing, surely one of the worst things we could do and a requirement for all Christians to avoid! It seems to me that we still seem as Christians often to be obsessed with relating sin specifically to sex whilst missing out other (more) serious items!
What this boils down to is very much as you say that we should use The Bible as guidance for what we do, especially remembering the principle of loving God and our neighbour which is not only said by Jesus to Jews but also repeated to Gentie based Christians elsewhere in the New Testament by Paul and others.
We are not Jews who have to beat ourselves up because we do not follow a prescribed set of rules. We are fallen human beings who should continue on a path of getting closer to how Jesus behaved. We can never be truly ‘holy’ on our own but neither should we sit back and consider that we do not need to do anything because of Jesus’ redemption for us on the cross. We should be constantly be becoming holy (or holier) which is what the Greek tense used in the NT suggests.
Melissa, I have been enjoying your blog for some time now. Keep up the good work. The last few days have undoubtedly been difficult ones for you. But I thank you for speaking up. May God give you and your family His grace, strength, and peace.
How did you become so wise so young?
The 10 commandments are actually very loving. A man who loves his God or his neighbor isn’t going to violate one of the commands, because they hurt other people or hinder fellowship with God. The commandments are brilliant because they show us how to love god and they protect us from doing harmful things to others and to ourselves.
Great point though about it it was just one or the other it would be easy.
What is bearing good fruit? Its bringing in people to know God. Your message was another nail in the coffin to turning away many. Yes, it made some self-righteous people who already are Christians feel good about themselves. But being self-righteous isn’t bearing fruit. Yes, it makes you feel good about YOURSELF for a moment like getting a little sticker on your “I’m Good” sticker chart. But it has nothing to do with the Gospel that Jesus preached.
Steph, it’s very cruel of you to say that I am turning people away from God. God is sovereign and He saves who He will, and no man or woman will change His will on that. I hope that I can be useful to God in His kingdom, but I don’t presume to have the power to save anyone nor to turn anyone away from God. And, just so you know, I don’t feel good about myself. I feel like I am bent toward wrong-doing, a bad attitude, and disobedience. In fact, I know I am. But, I also have a Savior who offers new mercies every day, and He is available to anyone who believes.
I wonder what Matthew Mcconaughey would say?
If ur Jim Hammond from LWCC, u r awesome. I learned about the true power of the Blood from u. Ur the best thing that ever happened to that church.
The Bible clearly states what it means to bear good fruit, in Galatians 5:22-23. And how do you “bring in people to know God” without loving them?
This post was just outlining what Jesus himself said in Matthew 22:36-40. I guess if you don’t like what was posted, take it up with Jesus. As far as it being hard to be a Christian, she is absolutely right. It’s hard to love mean, rude, or abrasive people especially when they are attacking you as you have attacked Melissa, but through Christ all things are possible. I will pray that God opens your mind and heart to what He wants for your life and attitudes. I will pray that He shows me how to do a better job of loving rude people. I know I need to work on that big time.
Melissa, beautiful post, true and honest. Thank you for posting.
The Gospel that Jesus preached turned many away. Those who still hung around did so because they didn’t have to pay a price of any kind. When the going got tough, and Jesus said tough things, a lot of the rest of them took off. Even his closest friends scattered when things didn’t turn out like they thought they would.
Jesus didn’t come here to make us all feel good and be all lovey-dovey. He came here to point us to the Father, and to call us to follow Him, and to count the cost, because the cost would be very high. In fact, we have to put our old, sinful selves to DEATH, which aligns us with Christ’s death. And in doing so, we have new LIFE, which aligns with Christ’s resurrection. And when we do that, we no longer belong to ourselves, we belong to God.
When we are no longer our own, we need to live our lives in obedience to God’s rules for holiness, which we never measure up to, but keep trying to anyway, because of our love for the Father. And in the end, it is not our righteousness that gets us to heaven, it is the sacrifice of Jesus and HIS righteousness that gets us there.
So I would say that the fact that someone’s blog post “turns people away from Christ” means that person is saying a lot of the same things that Jesus said when He was here, and is more in line with the true Gospel than the popular and attractive version of it (“another Gospel”) floating around everywhere these days.
Did Jesus write a blog pointing out how short Zaccheus fell from his standards? No, the Pharisees did that. Jesus had lunch wit him.
We can both find examples from Jesus’ life and ministry that would support the different angles we are coming from. He was both loving and inclusive, and hating of sin and divisive. I am reminded of a song called “Get The Balance Right”…. which is why Melissa’s post was such a good one, because that’s what she did.
Jesus expressed righteous indignation when He turned over the money- changers tables and I’m all for that. He also “turned away” the rich, young ruler because the ruler loved material things more than he loved God and spiritual things. I’m all for those kind of “turning away” of people. But the turning away of people for analyzing people’s sin life…. Jesus never did that. Did He do that with Mary
Magdalene, the prostitute or did he allow her to anoint Him with her perfume? Did he do that with the adulteress or did he cast the first stone? Yes, He said go and sin no more so wouldn’t our appropriate response to Matt be to say we’re here for you and encourage you on your walk with God. Definitely we should not be bringing up his past! Jesus never did that to people. He loved, forgave and looked to the future. It’s not our job to play morality police. Not at all. I know you’ll have to give up some ingrained beliefs that your church had taught u but it’s the truth.
Steph, the point of Melissa’s blog was not MM, it was Christians who were thinking that MM should have been given a medal for what he said. I’m nopt sure how many more ways she could say that.
Perhaps the reason this kind of post works to such a beautiful desired effect, and the movie posts got a bit out of hand, is that old cliche that you should write (if possible) about what you know. Every time I write about something “big” I have not studied or had professional experience in, it just stirs up trouble. And I dislike upsetting people, since practically everyone hungers, and has a raw nerve sticking out somewhere. I’m sure it still hurt to read some of those unkind reactions to your opinion, even if you can take it. So, on behalf of all those who disagreed with you and couldn’t manage to be courteous about it, I apologize.
I seek out writers like you when I want to understand more about other people’s sincere journey of faith. On that, you are an expert.
Well, I really like this comment, Mikey, and you are probably right. Thanks for reading!
I saw a whole lot of a well known and very old tactic going on in those threads. It is generally referred to as, “If you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger.”
Mikey, after sleeping on it and thinking about your comment, I wanted to add something to my reply. While it’s true that I’m not a movie expert, the post wasn’t about movies. It was about Christianity and the Bible. I’m no expert in that, either, but I do enjoy thinking and talking about it. Thanks again for your very gracious comment. You made me think, and I appreciate that!
I didn’t laugh. I didn’t sense a hairbreadth of ignorance. Your optimism is infinite and commendable. I am 17. Every mother has a story but every mother doesn’t have blog. Keep up! *love*
Melissa, you hit the nail on the head, once again, for summing up the 10 Commandments. We are called to love God first. That means all that you stated, and it will n*e*v*e*r be popular opinion. It will ruffle the feathers of those who want a fluffy Jesus, a sissified Jesus. Hence, my sharing this link of Voddie Baucham talking about what this sissified Jesus looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3McxEYEhXw
Totally off topic. I apologize. Hilary. I believe you and I will really get along. In only the purest and most proper of sibling senses of course.
I am for now going to heroically resist the clear attempt by some to makes this Mcconaughey V3.0. Another great piece here Melissa. AND I’m glad you clarified yourself some with Mike.
Tiribulus, amen. I understand and I agree. TY for your encouragement!
You are so right, Melissa! We are to speak the truth in love. If we refrain from speaking what is true because we fear disapproval from those who hear us, how is that love? Perfect love casts out fear.
The prophets and the apostles – and, most of all, Jesus – spoke the truth in love and were cruelly rejected for their trouble. It is an honor to be able to walk in their steps and suffer shame for His name.
Let us not suffer for doing evil, but if we suffer as you are – that is, for speaking the truth in love – then let us rejoice that we’ve been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name!
Let’s try this folks. As I told my dear sister Melissa in our email exchange. My “blog” functions as a fancy text editor and proof reader for my comments on other sites. I have done just about nothing to bring traffic there so that is not what this is primarily about.
She has both a different call on her life and a different purpose for this site according to that call. She is not going to allow battles to be fought here like the ones in the last 2 articles about Matthew Mcconaughey HERE and HERE
If Steph or anybody else wants to continue, I invite one and all to come HERE
I have almost no rules and it would take an AWFUL lot to get somebody censored or banned. I almost can’t think of anything. That is not a comparison with my sister. As I say, we simply have different calls and different purposes. If nobody shows up that’s fine too. LOL! Those who know me will tell you. I have PLENTY to do already.
God bless Melissa and God bless you.