Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

God Hasn’t Called Us to Morality

Ok, maybe it’s a little bit of clickbait, but in a way, it is true. God has not called us to morality, or at the very minimum: moralism. He has called us to faith. He has called us to faith in Christ Jesus the Lord. Morality is a good thing, but it is not the ultimate thing. It is not the goal. There are many people in this world that are moral people. They have high standards for themselves, their families, their job. They are ethical and polite and endearing. But that isn’t what we’ve been called to be.  We are called to be faithful followers of Christ–imitators of God as beloved children.

I have often heard people say that someone they know–who is nice, kind, or moral–must be a Christian (this could also be said of some politician, professional athlete, or rock star).  That assumes that only Christians can be nice, kind, or moral. That is a bad assumption because it is simply not true. I have known atheists who were kinder than many of those who proclaimed to know Christ–more hospitable, more encouraging, more helpful.  The question cannot be simply do they “act” like what we would assume Christians should act like. In reality, what we assume to be Christian qualities are often simply decent human being qualities.

We must look for a commitment to Jesus. When Jesus told us about what the kingdom of heaven was like, He told two very similar parables.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it,” (Matthew 13:44-46, ESV).

In both of these parables, Jesus describes Himself as that which is valuable, but also that which is costly. It is of such great value that no matter the cost, the buyer would gladly pay the price, even if it meant giving up everything for which he’d ever worked. That’s what we have been called to. We have been called to see the treasure, believe it is treasure, give up everything for the treasure, buy the treasure, and treasure the treasure.  Moral people, who are simply decent human beings, do not do these things. Morality may be costly in this day and age, but Christ is much costlier–too costly to treasure.

Matthew told a story in his gospel account that describes many moralists.

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions, (19:16-22, ESV).

Notice that he was a moral man (at least in his own eyes, and the eyes of others who knew him). But when he was told to give up all to follow Jesus, he changed his mind about heaven; morality was all he really wanted.  Jesus didn’t base this rich young ruler’s salvation on his keeping of the law–his morality, but on his unwillingness to faithfully follow Him. Neither should we.

That being said, part of that faithful following is obedience. It’s what Paul described as “obedience of the faith,” (cf. Rom 1:5).  By following Christ, the Holy Spirit has come to live within the believer. In doing so, He has put the law of God upon our hearts to obey and strengthens us to do so. We don’t always listen or utilize the strength that’s for sure, but with that law written on our hearts, the Spirit also brings us an escape route from sin (cf. 1 Cor 10:13).

The difference is that the moral person, without Christ, sees morality as his/her end-goal. The Christian has Christ as their end-goal. They want to be like Him–love as He loves, stand as He stood, give as He gave, live as He lived.  The Christian treasures Christ, not morality. Morals come with Christ as Christ is perfect, and the growing Christian will be ever-growing in morality but only because their focus is on the Righteous One. Morality is simply one of the grand jewels within the treasure. It is simply one of the glints of the pearl of great price.

So then the questions: are you a moralist or a Christian? Do you know a person who is a moralist but assumes they are Christian? Have you assumed a moralist was a Christian? What shall you now do?

Let me know your thoughts below. I love to interact with my readers.

World War I: 100 Years Past

Last Sunday marked 100 years since the end of World War I.  I am a fan of history, but I have to be honest, World War I was not even on my radar until 2014, the 100th anniversary of its beginning.  I tried to read a book (I won’t mention which), but stopped a little more than half-way because I was getting too bogged down with all that was happening. Instead of trying to learn from one book, I sought other inlets of knowledge.  Biographies on those who lived at the time, documentaries, and school books were helpful in putting together the horror that was The Great War.

One of the interesting moments in history was actually what happened pre-war. Colonel Roosevelt, as he was called after his presidency, had gone to Africa on safari sponsored by the Smithsonian.  Upon return, he made a trip through Europe, being invited by much of the royalty throughout. He met with Wilhelm II, Czar Nicolas II, and arrived in England to attend Edward VII’s funeral, meeting with his son King George V. He met with many dignitaries, saw many sights, and observed many armies.  It would seem that only TR could put it all together and see a war was one the horizon.  Europe was a powder keg ready to explode. It would only take one little match and the world would see a war the likes it never had before.  He also predicted it would happen in Austria-Hungry as tensions were mounting.  Sadly, he was seen as a “war-monger” and no one would listen to his warnings.  As it turned out, he was correct.  In June 2014, Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, capital of the Bosnia-Herzegovina province of the Austro-Hungarian empire.  The rest is history.

But it really isn’t that simple, is it? The entire world was changed by one assassin’s bullet. Empires fell, and the United States became a world-power. Nations that did not even exist before 1918 were suddenly created. Weapons that had never been imagined were developed so that more people could and would die. Chemicals were formed so that soldiers and even civilians would choke to death.  Millions upon millions of men would not come home, but were buried in unmarked graves.  Leaders were made, hardened by war–like steel–who would eventually lead the nations through another horrid war.  Pacts were made, treaties developed, and a League formed. Few of which survived a generation.

It was during this war and the next that cultural Christianity died in Europe.  State churches dwindled in attendance, and hearts dwindled in faith.  In western Europe, practicing Christianity averages 22%. That is according to the latest Pew Research poll.  To be practicing simply means to attend church at least once a month. Both England and France show 18% of practicing Christians while 55% and 46% of the populations respectively still consider themselves non-practicing Christians.  Faith in the God of the Bible dropped due to two horrid wars. Perhaps that is understandable, but perhaps if one understood the Scriptures, it would have caused greater faith.

The Bible is not shy about showing the depravity of man.  Paul linked together a bunch of verses to describe how evil humanity can get:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(Romans 3:10-18, ESV; emphasis mine)

The Bible also does not give any remedy to the depravity of man other than Jesus Christ Himself.  He alone can save us from our own evils. He alone can change our hearts, leading to a lasting change of actions. He is our Savior alone. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12, ESV). Most will never believe this. They will throw it off as if it were a Marvel Comic Book story.  They will continue to believe that they can change themselves, though they have tried time and again and failed.  They will continue to put their trust in their governments to make the world a better place, while their governments continue to declare war (whether literal or trade or drug or some other “war”) upon each other.

World War I ended just over 100 years ago, but its affects are long-lasting. History was changed during those four years of combat.  Many woke up to the evil around them. But in the haziness of being startled out of their slumber, they stumbled through the wrong door–the door of disbelief.  May that never happen with you and me. May the evil that we see in our world help us to see the truths of Scripture and hold fast to our Savior.