The following link was posted on our facebook thread today. It is an article which basically encourages giving a pass on certain activities to certain new converts or congregations who practice differently than you practice. The author mentions activities such as a person smoking a cigarette, using foul language or the less than stellar former lives of some of the 12 disciples.
I understand that many Christians do not drink or smoke and they refrain from activities like these for various reasons. The Bible is clear that Christian are not to get drunk, but there is actually no prohibition on either smoking or drinking and in fact it is clear that Jesus and the disciples drank alcoholic beverages. Were they ever accused of being drunk? No! Were they ever accused of being foul mouthed? No. Were some of them foul mouthed prior to accepting the call to follow Jesus? Likely so. Did a couple of them get off base when they wanted to call down fire from heaven? Absolutely, and Jesus didn’t hesitate to call them out for their horrible behavior and rebuke them. What they did before choosing to follow Jesus is germane only to the extent it displays for all to see that grace and salvation is available to all. And the Holy and sacrificial lives they lived after Jesus called them out is a testimony to the character of Christ which they took on thereby causing others to call them “Christian” or like Christ.
Christ expects perfection from us (Matt. 5:48) but He also understands that salvation is a process of sanctification. I find it odd that the author chose to focus on foul language and the F bomb for leniency since changing the words one uses in conversation is probably one of the easier areas in which we can be more like Christ. I have a much harder time with patience, envy, anger and materialism. A conversion experience should speak for itself in a life converted to be more like Christ through repentance and turning away from our former life.
Tim Enloe tells of a people group in Tanzania who although they have never previously heard the name of Christ or met any Christians, once they hear the Gospel and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior they immediately stop the status quo of horrible sexual practices and beating their wives. They don’t even have to be told the whole gospel to immediately understand in their renewed conscience that some things are simply not to be a part of their lives any more. But then Tim doesn’t present some “join the club” form of Christianity. They present a gospel more in keeping with the “Christ bids us come and die” concept as presented in “The Cost of Discipleship” book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Perhaps a huge disservice is being done by those who call people to come and “join” without explaining the true cost of following Christ.