Christians Who Fail to Do

I have been away from this blog for a little while now and I am finally starting to feel the draw to come back and write.  I believe I have stated before that Christians have a responsibility to share aspects of their lives with other Christians in order to help them know they are not alone in their struggles.  The biggest struggle I have been dealing with is “not wanting to”.

There is not a person alive who can honestly say they have never not wanted to do something.  Whether it be going to see family or going to work, there are activities that we just do not want to do.

Often we will end up doing the activity, as there can be negative consequences if we do not, but there are many activities that we do not perform, simply because we do not want to.

When was the last time you saw a homeless person on the side of the road looking for money?  Did you avert your eyes as not to make eye contact with the person as you drove by?  Did you justify to yourself that they were most likely going to use the money to buy alcohol so you were doing them a favor by not giving them money?  Perhaps it was another excuse, like you wanted to help out but all you had was a twenty or larger.

Last month, I had a friend who has struggled with trying to remain celibate approach me to say they were going to hook up with an old friend and have sex.  I asked her if she was wanting me to talk her out of it and she reply “No, unless you feel moved to do so”.

How many times have we put that condition out to God?

God, if you don’t want me to do X, send a sign.  Otherwise I will assume it is ok.

It doesn’t matter that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Bible speaks against something and we will struggle with incredible guilt, we want to do what ever it is.  It is the simple truth Christians often ignore, but we want to do things that feel good at the time.

At the time, I did not feel like going back through the speech about how bad she would feel after she had sex or God wants better for her than simple physical pleasure.  I honestly did not want to have to muster the emotion strength to do it again, so I didn’t.

I told her that she already knows that would be said and that she should honestly do what she wanted to do.  Christianity should be based on the voluntary submission to God and not the forced compulsion that usually comes from guilt and shame.  She did not end up having sex as the guy disappeared, but she was not saved from the shame based on my action.  Maybe my inaction allowed for God to demonstrate His power by making the temptation go away.

Regardless of what the outcome was, I did not feel like doing what I was supposed to do.  I did not feel like being emotionally supportive to her during her struggle and I often wonder what kind of guilt I would have shared in based not on her actions, but my lack of action.

I want to share more stories like this, as everyday life is where people are struggling.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Relationships, Religion

When We Don’t Want Hell To Be Real

I was taking to a friend the other day and he made a comment and had a brief discussion on Facebook with Matthew Paul Turner.  For those of you who do not know, Matthew Paul Turner is a fairly famous Christian blogger who has writes and speaks on what I consider the friendly church movement.  I have only read his book Churched, which was a good read, but it was not something that I connected with.  I suppose not being part of the “fundie” church crowd has kept me from connecting with some of his messages.  Regardless, I agree with a lot of what he writes about.

Turner, I will refer to him as this as typing Matthew Paul Turner over and over again makes the fingers cramp up, shared a post on his Facebook page about “What Jesus Talked About When He Talked About Hell“.  The post deals with what Jesus says about “hell” and what he might have meant by it.

The author of the article, Benjamin Corey, stated that the word “hell” did not exist in first century Israel.  According to Corey, the word did not appear until AD 725, when it was introduced.

According to the The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology, the word “hell” was adopted into our vocabulary as a way to introduce the pagan concept of hell into Christian theology– which it did quite successfully.

Corey then proceeds to give examples as how the word Jesus uses for hell in Greek is “Gehenna”.  I agree with the statement that Jesus used the word Gehenna in a parable that he told (Matthew 23:33).  I disagree with the notion that concept of hell as Jesus spoke about it, the pain and suffering aspects, was not known to first century Jews.

Looking for some background on the word Gehenna, I came across this noted in the NET version:

The word translated hell is “Gehenna” (γέεννα, geenna), a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew words ge hinnom (“Valley of Hinnom”). This was the valley along the south side of Jerusalem. In OT times it was used for human sacrifices to the pagan god Molech (cf. Jer_7:31; Jer_19:5-6; Jer_32:35), and it came to be used as a place where human excrement and rubbish were disposed of and burned. In the intertestamental period, it came to be used symbolically as the place of divine punishment (cf. 1 En. 27:2, 90:26; 4 Ezra 7:36).

While the word “hell” was not known to first century Jews, the concept of Gehenna as a place of divine punishment instead of just a historical location was known to them.  Now I disagree with Corey that the listeners of Jesus would taken this strictly in the historical context, but neither of us were there so we will never fully know.  This disagreement aside, I really enjoyed the post from Corey.

I do not agree with the way hell has been portrayed to people, as it was used as a threat and manipulation tool against far too many people.  The negative usage of hell aside, there is and i believe was an understanding as to the negative connotation of hell that cannot be discounted.  It needs to stop being used as a weapon, but we cannot just cast the idea of an eternal punishment spot aside because people either do not like it or have been hurt by it before.


Filed under Bible, Christianity, Religion, Soteriology