Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why Christian Boundaries Are Necessary

Yeah, we all want to be welcoming and friendly like Jesus. And yeah, we can be cautious about dealing negatively with other people. In fact, we may believe that agreeing with people is the best approach for dealing with differences.

But the truth of the matter is that Jesus wasn't a pushover either. He was very clear about who he was, and he wasn't backing away from that. He was clear about what he was about (seek and save the lost), what he would do (die despite what Pete thought; Matthew 16:13-28), and where people stood with him (he didn't trust them; John 2:23-25, John 6:25-27). He was kind and gentle with people, but he did so in truth (John 13:1-5). He didn't back away from what he stood for. And that made some people very uncomfortable.

People either loved him or hated him. He didn't allow for any middle ground. There were no centrist or reasonable accommodations. "You are either with me or against me," he would say. This included folks who were on the periphery — observing him from a distance, afraid of being associated with him, but believed his message (John 12:42). Jesus did not allow people to believe whatever they wanted to concerning him or God the Father.

So, what business is it of the church to be embarrassed about Jesus in order to not "offend" other people? What sense does it make for the church to be off mission in order to make peace with the world? How should the church respond to people who hate what it stands for?

Whether individuals or a corporate body of believers, we have to have boundaries. Even if we choose to relax those natural boundaries of beliefs and practices, we still erect boundaries unconsciously. We choose to sacrifice our allegiance to Christ to win the approval of men. Or we sacrifice our integrity to "go along to get along." In doing so, it causes a great amount of pressure internally — even if you choose to ignore it. So, why not just be real.

Let's just be the church. Let's just be truthful about Jesus identity. Let's just say that the message of salvation is critical to all mankind. Let's accept that not everyone will agree.

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