Have you ever met anyone who clearly doesn’t entertain the thought of being a Christian purely because it would inconvenience them? They might call it exactly like it is, or they might not be so overt about it, but at the end of the day, the real reason that they don’t want to live a Christian lifestyle is that they assume that God will make certain demands of them and they might have to forgo their current lifestyle. But why do people who haven’t experienced God’s love have that expectation?
Is it because Christians have placed that expectation on others as they convert to Christianity? It’s true, God does have lifestyle exceptions of his followers, but when does he expect them to change?
There is a pattern that is set out within the bible, and it’s a pattern that every Christian should be able to see. The Lord is proactive in saving his people before he starts making demands of them. Allow me to use an example.
In Exodus 20:1-2, the ten commandments start with…
And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Before the Lord gives his commands for a righteous lifestyle, he reminds his people that He has already done all the required work for salvation. The Lord our God has already saved us, brought us out of our slavery before anything else is said or done. Other examples of this is pattern are found when the Lord saves Noah from the flood before making his covenant with him, and Jesus laid down his life well before God has any expectations of his people today.
I suppose I’m writing this pushing back against people who might suggest that, as Christians, we must expect unbelievers to live and behave a certain way before we will accept them into our Christian community. God certainly doesn’t expect us to live to his standards before He accepts us, so why should we expect others to live to our standards before we will accept them?
What follows in the ten commandments is God’s advice on a righteous lifestyle. He is essentially saying “Now that I’ve saved you from your enemies, this is an acceptable way to live”. What he is not saying is “This is the perfect way to live, and if you can’t live by these standards you have to have faith in me for salvation.” The Jewish people were not perfect before, during or after their rescue. We are not perfect before, during or after God’s rescue of us. God’s desire to rescue us is not dependent on our lifestyle choices, therefore we need to have faith in God well before we consider what a righteous life looks like, let alone apply it. We find in the pages of the bible a God who loves his people so fiercely, that they want to live a more righteous life in response to God’s love.
We need be telling our family, friends and colleagues about the awesome rescue story of Jesus Christ that is perfectly told in the bible. We need to be showing them, by action, that the Christian lifestyle is the best way to live in this world, and faith in Jesus is the only way to live in the next.
We need to be reminding the people around us that God loves us so much that He accepts us just as we are… but He loves us too much to leave us there.