Now for the fun part, the difficult questions. In the last post , I talked about when it was okay to judge, be judgemental, and when to speak out about our judgements. However, that leaves a lot of questions for some of us:
- Are Christians responsible for whether unbelievers hear truth or not?
- Is someone who never heard the gospel responsible for not believing in Christ?
- If someone were to get pregnant after being raped, are they responsible for the life produced?
I believe that before asking these questions, we must first consider the difference of being guilty and being responsible. To be guilty means that whatever has occurred (good or bad) was a result of your action(s). To be responsible for something means that the future outcomes of the repercussions of that thing is to be credited to you.
God judged all of us as full of sin and worthy of death (check your Bibles). We are guilty. But, Christ took responsibility for us. He died and rose for our sins. He empowers us to live holy, as we will see later this post. But, He was not in the least guilty.
This difference will become important soon enough, just hold on to this for a bit and I will get back to it – I promise!
Moral Relativism is the idea that every person has their ideas of what is right and what is wrong, and we are each entitled to live that out as we see fit. The problem with this idea is that it entails that one could spin any action into being the right action, morally. This can only be true as long as we cannot find an action that is always inherently wrong. However, there are some actions like cold-blooded murder, rape, and others that I believe anyone reading this today would agree are all wrong actions in any circumstance.
Another problem with moral relativism is that it is quite easy (even common) to imagine situations where my truth says your truth is a lie – one of our truths must be wrong in that case.
This, to me, implies that there must be an intrinsic truth that we all acknowledge, to some degree. When a child is stolen from, no one has to tell that child that he was wronged. In Greek mythology, all of their gods were seen as either good or evil. This implies that the gods too are adhering to a greater truth than what they provide. To me, this suggests the necessity of the one, true God. Upon personal research, soul searching, and etc, I have come to the belief that this God must be the Christian God. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to write about all of the reasons I believe as I do; however, because I believe in this truth I must also believe in a responsibility to truth.
If Christ is the only way to Salvation and if anyone without Christ is without God, then I believe I have the responsibility to spread that Word. Jesus’ last words were this command,
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:15 ESV). ”
Jesus believed in this idea that we are each responsible to tell the world the truths we have learned and we are each responsible to find this truth. According to Christ, our judgment of Christianity will determine the fate of our eternity. But, how is this fair if not everyone has even heard of Christ?
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:19-21 ESV).
The Bible is clear that the very creation of the planet is evidence enough for us to find truth, and we are each responsible for finding this truth and telling others about said truth.
This is not the popular answer, I know. Many of you may be reading this and in your head going, “What about if I…” or “Okay, but….” or whatever. This should make you uncomfortable if you are not in this truth or if you have not been spreading the Word correctly. I do not apologize for my words nor for your discomfort; I believe that by coming to my blog and reading my opinions that you have in one sense invited me onto your jury and this is simply the verdict that I have reached concerning truth.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ESV).”
These verses were used many times to inform me that I should not have friends who aren’t Christian, or date people who aren’t as strong in their beliefs as I, or whatever. Now, I do not believe in missional dating – dating for the purpose of converting someone – but, I also do not believe that avoiding those who believe differently than us is right, either.
These verses above are from Paul again, writing to the church at Corinth warning them collectively to not become one with their culture. We said in the last post that Corinth was like Las Vegas, today. Believers should not change themselves to become one with a culture like that. Our jury should not be one that consists of strippers, gamblers, addicts, and such like these. Not because we should avoid these people, but instead because their council would be folly and unhelpful for our decisions.
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20 ESV).
So, we are responsible for who we choose to accept council from. We, like Christ, are responsible for loving people and spreading the good news of God and we are also responsible for who we accept council from and “become one with”.
Christ claims that if we love God and love people then we have accomplished the whole law of God. This is the truth that I believe we are each responsible for. In the Bible, Christ hung out at bars and spent time with prostitutes but He never became one with them – this is the way that we must mimic in our lives. We must be careful with whom we choose to be in our jury, but we must also do our best to earn our way into others’ juries, so that we have the right to share the truth with them.
Christ did not wait at Church for people to come to Him; He did not force His ways onto others; He went into public places and earned His way into others’ lives, so that when they asked Him, He could share truth with them. He even was accused of being a drunk because of the company He kept (Matthew 11:19). Now, we must do likewise.
Not only are we responsible for who we keep on our personal life juries, but we are also accountable for the verdicts we speak out as other people’s jurymen. Though we share no guilt for other people’s actions, we have to answer for the input we give into other people’s lives that effect their decision-making.
To those of us who choose to draw larger circles of responsibility that include many others, the Bible says this:
Not many of you should become teachers (jurymen), my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1 ESV).
Last post, we talked about how great leaders draw these larger circles for who they take responsibility for. This is what it means to be like Christ. He took responsibility to love all those whom He encountered. There are many in my life whom I have chosen to take on the responsibility to love: some are family by blood, some are my family by choice, some are close friends, and occasionally I even am empowered to love those whom I don’t know.
This was everything to Christ,
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend ALL the Law and the Prophets (Luke 22:37-40 ESV).
Finally, we look at the execution of truth. This is where the difference of responsibility and guilt will become important again. One such important example is if someone has been raped, then they are not guilty at all. But, because I believe in the sanctity of life and the sovereignty of God, those truths make me believe that even though a woman may have been a victim, she should still choose to accept the responsibility of that baby. This is hard for many people and I get that. Maybe the best thing to do is put the baby up for adoption or whatever; I am honestly unsure but I do believe that baby’s life is important.
That being said, the man who committed rape is both guilty and responsible. I personally believe he should get the death penalty and his family should take financial responsibility for the coming child. But that is merely my opinion.
We are all responsible and guilty for any action we make, but we can also choose to be responsible for more than just ourselves and our own actions. In fact, I believe all great people are great because they do just that.
Now, on to our own personal actions. In a letter to a church in Rome, Paul writes about judgment. He calls out the church-people there for being judgemental towards others. He calls the people out as hypocrites for being so judgemental, whilst they were still committing similar sins themselves. Paul warns them that they will all one day be judged by God, Himself.
Now mind you that this is the same man who claims that salvation comes through faith alone and not by the actions we make (Romans 3:28), which is only true because when one accepts salvation, they accept the power of Christ to become one with their spirit – in order to help them make better executions in their actions (Galatians 2:20). And even though he has made such bold claims as these, Paul here warns,
He (God) will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality (Romans 2:6-11 ESV).
Accepting salvation, love, and Christ in our lives can empower us to live correctly; however, we are clearly still responsible for executing right action in our lives. We are responsible for choosing faith and we are responsible for choosing right actions. And, as Paul notes directly before the quote above (check Romans 2:1-4) we are NOT responsible for making others live according to our judgements – this only makes us out to be hypocrites and misrepresentatives of the gospel!
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder (James 2:14-19 ESV)!
Please excuse the following side-bar, but I think it important to illustarte my greater point.
In the movie, Captain America: Civil War, the two main characters are Iron Man (billionaire, playboy, philanthropist) and Captain America (super-soldier and America’s golden boy). The two characters get into an argument about responsibility. Iron Man sides with the governments saying that they should have the right to force the team known as the Avengers (a team of superheros that both Iron Man and Captian America were apart of) to only execute the judgements of said governments. Captain America believes that the team should take responsibility for themselves and should be able to keep the right to make their own judgments of what is right and how / when they can execute said judgements. In the comicbook adaption of this story, Captain America says the following:
I believe this is the truth of responsibility. We should all give where we can, in order to accomplish peace, but we must not budge on what we have judged to be right. We cannot allow others to be forced into our juries or force us to execute certain actions that we may not agree with. We are each responsible for our own actions and beliefs.
I know my thoughts have been rather scattered this post but, hopefully, this post has answered some difficult questions for some reading. Hopefully, it has made you feel quite uncomfortable – I was uncomfortable writing it. I believe truth should make one feel this way at times. We are each responsible for what we judge as truth, who we allow on our juries, the advice we give, and the actions we make.
Last post, I challenged everyone to write out a list of who was on their jury. This time I ask you all to call one person whose jury you are on and tell them an uncomfortable truth that they need to hear. I believe we all have one person that we could share a truth with that we haven’t yet shared. I also believe that upon reading this, you knew exactly who you needed to contact. I challenge you to just do it! This one act may allow you to open up better communication with your jury which will allow better success in everyone’s lives invloved.