zondag 24 november 2013

Another gospel

1 Cor. 9:22-23

22 When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can. 23 I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings.

Col. 2:20-23

20 You died with Christ. Now the forces of the universe don't have any power over you. Why do you live as if you had to obey such rules as, 21 “Don't handle this. Don't taste that. Don't touch this.”? 22 After these things are used, they are no longer good for anything. So why be bothered with the rules that humans have made up? 23 Obeying these rules may seem to be the smart thing to do. They appear to make you love God more and to be very humble and to have control over your body. But they don't really have any power over our desires.

I am someone who easily adapts to different cultures, circumstances and people. For me to be a Jew with the Jew and Greek with the Greek is actually something I enjoy. However, there is a big pitfall there and often I have fallen into it. To be able to adapt is good but one should be careful what one adapts to, and for what purpose. Paul’s focus was Christ and the Gospel of Christ. With that focus in mind he was willing to give up a lot of his personal freedoms and preferences in order to save some. However, we should not adapt to other people’s wishes and preferences simply for the sake of wanting to be liked. Nor should we adapt out of fear of rejection or abandonment.  This is one pitfall I have often fallen into and in the process also compromised my walk with Christ. The word of God warns us not to become unequally yoked with unbelievers. This does not just mean those who are not Christians, but includes those who call themselves Christians but do not live a Christ-like life. It also includes those who follow a different gospel than the gospel of grace and love taught by Christ.  I have realised that in relationships, even within Christian ministry I have often compromised and adapted too much and gotten myself entangled and unequally yoked with people whose gospel consists of ‘don’t do this’, ‘you shouldn’t have done that’, ‘you must do this’, ‘you must be like this....’. Such a gospel may have the appearance of godliness but it is characterised by self-righteous perfectionism, pretending to be better than thou. The followers of such a false gospel condemn or look down upon those who err, magnify the errors of others but hide or down play and even deny their own wrongs. It is a false gospel which sadly can be found in virtually every Christian tradition. Those who live according to the gospel of grace and love, and the gospel of no-condemnation for those who belong to Christ (Rom. 8:1ff) should be careful not to get unequally yoked with them. If we take their heavy yoke upon ourselves rather than the yoke of Christ (which is light) as we adapt to their rules and demands we may end up heavy laden or emulating their judgemental attitude which has more in common with the Pharisees than with Christ who in compassion and grace says, I do not condemn you, but go and sin no more.

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