Saturday, 10 May 2008

Live such good lives among the pagans...

Last week, I was talking to Gareth. We were discussing how you answer a non-believer who asks you why you behave in a certain way as a Christian. In other words, we're talking about the questions of the sort, 'Why don't you sleep around?', 'Why don't you get drunk?' and so on.

The Bible assumes that our lifestyles should call out questions of this nature (1 Peter 3:15 and so on). Christian teaching encourages us to live godly lifestyles so that, amongst other reasons, we might promote these sorts of questions. Yet I think these questions are fiendishly difficult to answer without:

1. Being dishonest
2. Sounding super-spiritual
3. Using lots of jargon
4. Taking personal credit for the Holy Spirit's work in us

Anyone got any ideas?


PostTenebrasLux said...

A couple of ideas. Not sure how clear they'd be to a non-Christian, though.
(1) Through my trust in Jesus Christ, God made me into a new kind of person, one that begins to live like His Son, Jesus.
(2) Through trusting in Jesus Christ, the Bible tells me that I become part of His Body. I am joined to Him; therefore, it's not appropriate to do those things to Christ's Body.
Not sure...

gazleaney said...

This isn't really an attempt at an answer (yet), but I have two further thoughts on the question before...

Another danger is to come across as legalistic ("I don't do that because I'm not allowed to") - as we answer these questions we need to make sure grace isn't left behind.

Also, there are different layers to the answer. We need to explain, as PTL points out, that as Christians we're changed and we are becoming more like Jesus etc. But we also need to explain why certain behaviour isn't appropriate. So if we tell people we don't sleep around because we're being made more like Jesus by the Holy Spirit, surely that then begs the question, "why didn't Jesus sleep around?"

Hope that makes sense. I'll think about this more...

Jane said...

Why not say that you don't want to offend God by doing things that don't please him? After all he has done so much for us............

That leaves you open to explain about what he has done. Although it also leaves you explaining why such behaviour would offend God. Perhaps that wouldn't be such a bad thing?

I don't think there is an easy way round this! My fear is that I sound as if I think I am better than others. Trying to be as he wants me to be is my way of saying thank you and not a way of me proving I am a goody two shoes - I am right and your wrong sort of thing! That can be so off-putting to a non-Christian!

Dave K said...

Thinking about 1 Peter it is striking that none of the comments so far mention HOPE.

We live this way because we have hope!

Unpacking this we have a hope OF a new creation where God's creation is marked by harmony of relationships with one another and with God. We live the way we do in order to anticipate this two fold reconciliation and act as if it is already here. Living as God designed.

Then we can talk about HOW this hope is ours. I.e. Christ's death and resurrection for us.

I think that connects with where people are at, avoids legalism, and lifts up Christ.

Hope is a powerful thing.

peterdray said...

Helpful comments, all.

Dave - I completely agree, but actually articulating that hope and linking it to everyday decisions with unbelievers is really hard.

Agreed that this links into what others have said; particularly the new spiritual live in Christ that Zac describes.

This still isn't completely settled for me though...

Dave K said...

Yeh I think there is a limit to how helpful my comment was.

Firstly, it was bad of me to just list Jesus as the means to our hope rather than our hope as well. All our promises are yes IN HIM has both those aspects I think.

Secondly, you are right Peter it is a bit too big-picture. I suppose I could talk about how obedience in these things that seem abitrary and denials of freedom to our society are actually routed in a way of living that respects others. Drunkeness and sleeping around may seem like victimless 'crimes' but they are not. In the epistles they are listed in sin lists which seem to be almost exclusively ways of hurting your neighbour.

I'll think about it some more but I think that may be a helpful avenue.

gazleaney said...

Dave, I also agree, although I think it's only part of the answer. We live in a certain way because of the hope we have, but that sounds like it's all our doing. There is also the inward transformation which means it's natural for us to live this way (as Zac said).

The question is, how do we express all of that to a non-Christian?