Monday, February 22, 2010

De-emphasizing Morality

A couple of weeks ago, a friend wrote a guest post on moralism. This weekend, I got the following email devotional from Ransomed Heart, which seems to reinforce what he said.

I think it's really important to remember that the point of Christianity is not purity, but living with and becoming closer to God. That includes morality, but more as a side-effect rather than the end-result.

An analogy that came to me recently about this is marriage. Should I be nice to my wife? Absolutely. But is the goal of marriage being nice to her? I sure hope not. The goal is intimacy. If we have an intimate relationship, I will probably have to be nice, and the more intimate we become, the nicer I will likely become. But if I just act nice all the time and think our marriage is great, I will be sorely disappointed. Yet many marriages are just like that--nice with no intimacy.

Many people's relationships with God are like that, too: They are nice to God and others, but there is no intimacy with God. Purity and morality is good, but I think we over-emphasize it as a sort of goal of Christianity rather than result of faith and relationship with God.

Ransomed  Heart
Ransomed Heart

February 20, 2010

An Invitation to Desire

This may come as a surprise to you: Christianity is not an invitation to become a moral person. It is not a program for getting us in line or for reforming society. It has a powerful effect upon our lives, but when transformation comes, it is always the aftereffect of something else, something at the level of our hearts. And so at its core, Christianity begins with an invitation to desire.

Look again at the way Jesus relates to people. There is the Samaritan woman Jesus meets at the well. She has come alone in the heat of the day to draw water, and they both know why. By coming when the sun is high, she is less likely to run into anyone. You see, her sexual lifestyle has earned her a “reputation.” Back in those days, having one partner after another wasn’t looked so highly upon. She’s on her sixth lover, and so she’d rather bear the scorching rays of the sun than face the searing words of the “decent” women of the town who come at evening to draw water. She succeeds in avoiding the women, but runs into God instead. What does he choose to talk to her about—her immorality? No, he speaks to her about her thirst : “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water” (John 4:10 The Message). Remarkable. He doesn’t give a little sermon about purity; he doesn’t even mention it, except to say that he knows what her life has been like: “You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband” (John 4:18 The Message). In other words, now that we both know it, let’s talk about your heart’s real thirst, since the life you’ve chosen obviously isn’t working. “The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life” (John 4:14 The Message).

(Desire , 35–36)

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