Why is it that being a Christian is based only on things you cannot do?
Not too long ago, I was given the opportunity to respond to this question.
I thought I would share the response [I gave then] to the question and other thoughts I’ve had on this since then with you. Because let’s face it, this is a question most of us have had at some point on our faith journey – at least, I know I have.
When you love someone, you do what pleases them [and you don’t do what displeases them] not because you necessarily must but because making them happy is important to you.
Why don’t you insult your parents, for example? It’s not because there’s a lock on your mouth when you stand before them; it’s because of the love and respect you have for them and a knowledge that insulting them, however good it might make you feel in the moment, jeopardizes your relationship with them.
For us, children of God, we do/don’t do because we love God and because our relationship with Him means a lot to us. So, Christianity is not based on things we cannot do but on the infinite love of God for us and our own response of love to Him for that!
The THOU SHALLs and the THOU SHALL NOTs are for people who have experienced His love and want to respond by obeying Him.
We love because He first loved us… 1 John 4:19 NIV
~ Imagine a movie-like scene where someone has taken a bullet that was directly aimed towards you and is lying there… you ran towards the person and with his/her last few breaths this person tells you something they want you to do… certainly, in that moment, in that kind of situation, nothing the person asks will be too difficult to do… whether it is something you would usually do or not, regardless of whether the person lives or dies.
This is exactly what Jesus did; He took the bullet meant for me and asks that I live how He lived i.e. live to please Him.
This ‘living to please God’ is called godly living or godliness… i.e. a God-centered life… and this leads me to my second point.
1 Timothy 6:6 NIV
 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
The devil will have you think that if you choose to be godly, God/the Christian life is controlling you.
Here’s the thing: whether you choose to serve God and obey Him or rebel against God, you’re under some kind of influence — nobody’s entirely free from influence. We’re all influenced by something or someone. Romans 6 says it like this:
“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Also check out: Romans 6:16, 18 NIV
We see here that whether it’s to sin or to righteousness, Paul uses the term slaves.
Rebellion (against God) has the deceptive quality of making you think you’re the boss. You’re not.
E.g.: God says [by His Spirit in you], “Don’t steal.”
“Why? Because it doesn’t please Me – it dishonours Me as being unable to give you what you desire if I so desire it and it hurts the one you steal from.”
Rebellion says [by the influence of the flesh]: “Steal.”
“Why can’t you take it? You are also a person, you can enjoy that thing too… take it, nobody will see or know it…”
So whether you steal or not, you listened; you chose! You were told what to do.
The devil knows that because you have free will, he has to get you to think what he wants is what you really want too… or else you won’t choose his option [seeing as his option is sin and the wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23]
So he uses a strategy that has served him well for ages and this is to make it seem like God is trying to control you [Genesis 3:1, 4-5]. The whole purpose of this is to get you to fight what you know is right.
Get this: At creation, God could have made you a robot who does what He wants and says without question BUT He chose to give you a choice. He chose to give you free will.
Satan has never had this kind of power… so his way of exercising power over you is by making you a robot for his purposes and convincing you to think that the robot life he pushes you into is exciting and fun and all your idea. Of course, he has the media and the entertainment industry backing him [and whether you like it or not or you’re ready to admit it or not, those have significant influence on us.]
Note: It’s “godliness with contentment” because there’s a tendency to look at what ungodly people are doing and think that you’re missing out.
If you choose to think of the Christian life in terms of only restrictions, you’ll miss so much!
Christianity is not based on things we cannot do; it’s based on the love of God that empowers us to live for Him and do exploits!
There’s so much we’re not just allowed to do but have POWER and AUTHORITY from God to do.
We have power to speak healing… we have power to preach and teach and transform lives by the Word of God.
Mark 16:17-18 [NIV] has this to say:
And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
In summary, Christianity is not based on things we cannot do; Christianity is based on the love of God which empowers us to do supernatural exploits and causes us to grow to understand that this love is more precious than the fleeting pleasure of anything the world has to offer!
Let me conclude with a few thoughts about love relationships.
People who haven’t experienced love in the same kind of relationship you are in [or in the same capacity you have] cannot and will not quite understand the dynamics of your relationship. Very often, in their struggle to understand and respond to what you share about your relationship and how you act because of this relationship that matters to you, their reactions and responses will be marked by mockery and/or disdain.
You are going to have to be secure enough in your relationship(s) and understand what a particular relationship means to you. Otherwise, when the mockers and cynics start on you, you will try [dumb-ly] to seem like a “hard guy” just to make them happy.
It’s like boys-boys who have gone out chilling, having fun, etc. and then one of them says “Charley, boys, I for go house; I promise wifey say I go catch house by 10.30″.
You can expect the responses to this announcement to be stuff like: “Oooh you dierr…” / “Husband of the year dat!” / “Lockdown Ninja”, etc. and I bet you, these won’t come only from the single guys but from even the married ones.
It’s the same with an obedient and God-honouring lifestyle. It can be a pretty powerful magnet for teasing and cynical comments. Sadly, sometimes, those from whom you receive the worst of the teasing comments, the mockery and the cynicism are the ones you would think would and should know better – fellow Christians.
But recognize that each of you is on a different journey and has a unique relationship with God. Relationships are personal.
Kill thoughts of “Maybe, I’m overdoing it with this Christian/Jesus thing”.
Relationships are personal. Pay attention to yours and grow yours. By all means, learn from others who are doing theirs right. But don’t compare yourself to others and definitely do not let others who are doing worse than you are tell you how to be in yours. That is not wise.
It’s like this: not everyone loves their siblings or their parents or their spouses in the exact same way. Some are crazy about their parents/siblings/spouses… others are indifferent about their people… still, there are some others who can’t stand them at all.
Similarly, you can’t expect everyone – even including those who claim to be in a similar relationship to yours – to understand where exactly you are in yours and to behave with respect and consideration for your journey.
Not everybody loves God like you do so if you’re going to live to please Him, that’s your choice – and a smart one at that – and you should expect haters not just of God but also of your special and unique journey. Don’t be bullied out of the choice of how to take or enjoy your relationship with God; it’s the one relationship that matters the most!
Remember: Observers will always be worried; do your thing, child of God!