There are all kinds of Christians in this world. There are Christians who say that they are free to do certain things and then there are Christians who say that all Christians need to go by a set of rules. They should read their Bible, pray, go to church, be involved in the church, witness to others, tithe… Then there are other Christians who say that God does not care what church you go to, or if you go to church, what matters is your relationship to Him and that you are trying to do good for Him. Then there is a new generation of action believers which believe that you should be constantly doing good, loving your neighbors, giving to the poor, living modestly, and not worry about preaching about Jesus, just show Him in your life. Some believe that you just need to believe in Jesus and what He did and then you can live however you want to live. Then there are all kinds of different Christians who believe all kinds of different things.
So what is the right way to live? Is there one set of beliefs that is right within Christianity? I mean we have dozens of different denominations. Each denomination has a variety of beliefs held within each church. Some will focus on reaching the poor, some focus on the KJV being the most important Bible version, some say to work on discipling others, and some focus on evangelism and reaching the most amount of people they can, some are geared towards serving its members, while others serve those outside the church walls.
The Reason for God by Tim Keller talks about people who do not believe in Christianity because Christianity is narrow and non-inclusive and that Christians push their beliefs on others and that is not right. Tim Keller refutes that by saying that those people are doing the exact same thing. By saying that they don’t believe Christians should promote their faith, they are promoting their own beliefs (of not being pushy) and pushing them on others. He makes a great argument and I would highly recommend his book to read it all. But the reason I bring his argument up is that I think that this happens within Christianity as well. We argue our own position often and try to get others to do the same. I find that I am personally greatly influenced by what I have read recently. For example, I just read a book on loving others, hating war and injustice, and feeding the poor (amongst other things) and it really affected me to the point of changing some of my thoughts and actions. And I could agree so much that I buy more books on the topic and get more involved in those aspects of Christianity. Does that mean that I have found the right way to live as a Christian? But what if I read another influential book on the Spiritual Disciplines and how I should live as a Christian and I started getting into those? Would that be the right path to take considering the author shows great proof from the Bible on why I should do those things? I could go on and on with more topics, but what is the right one to focus on?
And that is where I think that we need to have a balance in our Christian life. Maybe I am speaking for myself, but my tendency generally is to read something and be greatly pulled by it to the point where it starts to take over my life. But if I read something and add it to my tool belt, I think that is where I am going to be more effective. I think that too often within Christianity, we focus on one part and that leads to self-righteousness and judgment of others. For example, within a lot of churches I have been in, I see people who are faithful to church, always dressed nicely, always volunteering, and always with an attitude that they are the troopers in the trenches for God. They then look down on those who are not as involved in church and assume that they are not as spiritual. But on the other hand I have seen those who believe that the church is broken and needs to be fixed and that they are more righteous for being outside of the church, with a right relationship with God, than in the wicked church that is full of hypocrites. I think that we need to be careful not too focus on one aspect of Christianity and look down on others who focus on another part.
Recently I read an email in which someone mentioned not pushing God’s Word down people’s throats, assuming that is what I was doing. I know what that person means, but I really do not think that is what I am doing. I am here to teach the Bible though. That person says that we need to follow Jesus’ example of loving the poor and living with them and fighting injustice because Jesus did that. I agree that should be a part of our ministry, and since I have read that book, I have tried to make it more of a part. But Jesus’ primary ministry was teaching. Look at the gospels and see how much he taught in there. He met people’s needs through miracles and a couple of times providing food for the multitudes, but His primary job was teaching.
I think that God has equipped many different people with many different passions in life. Passages that talk about our spiritual gifts show how we are all one body with different parts to it. We need people who will serve as hands and feet, administrate, teach, lead as Pastors, feed the poor, encourage others, be hospitable, visit the hospital, pray constantly, counsel others, and so many more things. We need to recognize our gift, even focus on it, but also not be afraid to work on other areas as well. And most of all, we should not think of ourselves (and our gifts) more highly than we ought to.