That would be a different religion!

On season 20 of Survivor – Heroes vs. Villains – Russell Hantz came in 3rd place.  He will go down as one of the most colorful players in Survivor history for his physical and mental gamesmanship.  But his social game was severely lacking as he failed to get the votes necessary from his fellow contestants in the final “tribal council”.  In response to this loss, Russell claimed that there was a “flaw in the game” and that the those outside the game (viewers) should get a say in the final vote which he believed would have garnered him the win.  In response Jeff Probst, the host of the show, replied “that would be a different game” (not the game of Survivor).

This same attitude of there being a “flaw” in the “game” is quickly gaining popularity in modern or progressive Christianity.  Although I hate to reduce God’s word to some list of do’s and don’ts, as it is far more than that, the Bible IS our “rules book” which clearly and definitively spells out the requirements to be found in Christ (being a Christian).  Those “rules” include ALL of the following minimum requirements – repentance for (turning away from) sin, commitment to obeying God’s laws and embracing the atoning work of Christ.  I fully admit that this is a significant over simplification while still headlining the core essence of what it means to be a Christian.

There are countless individuals and denominations today who claim the name of Christ and yet are editing the rules of Christianity in a progressive effort to point out there is a “flaw in the game”.  It matters not how compassionate, popular or progressive these edits are, the simple fact is that to change the “rules” means they are engaging in a different “game” (religion) and therefore CANNOT be called Christians.  Whereas this may sound harsh, the simple fact remains that if you are trying to introduce chess pieces into the game of Scrabble you are no longer playing either chess or Scrabble – it becomes a different game.  In the same way, if you embrace the killing of babies in the womb, homosexuality, ignoring the poor in favor of your own financial security or “wink” at gossip, greed or gluttony; well then that would be a different religion and you should feel free to practice it.  Just don’t call it Christianity.

Being a Christian is no game!  Neither is it some club whose members periodically vote on new rules or eliminate old ones.  It is a commitment, to the best of our ability with the help of the Holy Spirit, to honor the Creator and his plan of salvation for those few (see Matthew 7:14) who find that narrow pathway that leads to eternal life.  If that sounds too harsh and exclusive for you, there are plenty of “other games” out there that might interest you.  But don’t, in some show of arrogance, come into the doors of the Church and try and change God. God NEVER changes with the shifting shadows of time or popular sentiment (see James 1:17).  Why would you do that?  Why not just go somewhere else and call it something else.  No one is forcing you to follow Christ or embrace God’s laws.  Find another club or group, make your own rules and call it whatever you want.  But don’t attempt (because that’s all it could be – an attempt) to change the Character and Nature of our Holy Creator – because that would be a different religion.

All or nothing!

Alabama has it right! We have already lost the abortion battle, which we may lose anyway, if we say murder is OK in some rare cases. It would be the equivalent of saying “well I guess you can murder that person because they had a poor or rough childhood and their quality of life going forward is, in my opinion, not worthy”. And there is where the problem comes in, “in my opinion” makes the killing about me and what I want or think and not about the decision to life being sacred to every single human baby, teen, adult or senior. We open ourselves up to the accusation that we are being inconsistent and hypocrites if we allow for exceptions of rape or incest and those accusations would be completely accurate. As Christians, sin is sin and the minute we start exceptions for sin is the very minute we lose the battle against evil. And just for the record, the church has and is already conceding “land for peace” with the secular society we find ourselves surrounded by in hopes of being seen as more compassionate or acceptable. This is so much a wrong, warped and short sighted focus as our holy Father in heaven is the only one we need to please. So I encourage all Christians to choose sides and choose a path and at the same time to be careful which one we choose. One of those paths leads nowhere good and we already know from scripture that most will take that much easier and broad path with lots of company. And although it is a much harder journey, I implore you to choose the very narrow pathway of real compassion which includes support for crisis pregnancies, housing pregnant teens, adoption and prayer. If you are truly “pro life” this is the only option that leads to true life, both on this earth for the not yet born and eternal life in heaven for those who choose that less traveled pathway.

Just what is “The unforgivable sin”?

Perhaps far more of us are committing this unpardonable sin than anyone would have imagined.  I may not be the first to have some revelation on this question but all of a sudden about a week ago it was like the skies opened and it seemed all too clear as to what would be the most blasphemous thing one could do.

I’ll start with one of the more scandalous parables in scripture – the parable of the unforgiving servant.  Like most parables it starts out with “the kingdom of heaven is like THIS”.  I often wonder if we don’t take very seriously this line in parables.  But in this parable when the once forgiven man goes out and doesn’t forgive his fellow-man he is UNFORGIVEN the entire debt (of sin) he owed.  And unless you think this parable is actually about dollars and cents we have to be honest and recognize it is about forgiving sin and offenses.

I hope we can all agree the most costly, significant and sacrificial event in history was Jesus laying down His life for our sins on the cross of Calvary in which payment for all sin was made.  And I suggest the most blasphemous, horrible, offensive and unforgivable thing anybody could ever do would be to withhold that costly forgiveness from others.  Yes, I believe the unforgivable sin is unforgiveness itself because of the insult it shows to Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross – basically you are mocking and spitting in the face of Jesus.  Unforgiveness is what caused the forgiveness granted to the servant in the parable to be canceled.  Please consider carefully the fact that the King (God) does what can only be described as rescinding the offer of canceled debt (sin) once the servant refused to “pay it forward” by forgiving others.

So in conclusion, unless the offense you hold is worth an eternity in hell (because that is where one goes whose sins are not covered by the blood of Jesus) it would seem prudent to be conduits of God’s love and forgiveness to all others least we condemn ourselves in the process.

Matthew 6:15 – But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will NOT forgive your failures.