Wednesday, February 18, 2009


This has been on my mind a lot lately. I actually started a blog about it, and never finished it. After reading friend's blog yesterday, I decided to try again to put my thoughts down, jumbled though they may be. I should put a disclaimer here: I am far from perfect. I have tons of room for improvement, and most days feel like a failure in every area of my life, but these are some thoughts & concerns that I have - things I wonder about, and worry that I find the right balance also. Disclaimer #2: If you do not attend a conservative holiness church, you may want to avoid this post.

To start, here is a story from the Revolutionary War. I can't find the story on line, so I will tell it in my own words........

The winter was rough. The soldiers were freezing, and running out of wood to burn. Some soldiers asked General Washington for permission to use some of the fence rails from the neighboring farms for firewood. Permission was granted, as long as they only took the top rails. Soon, there were no rails left, for as the top rail was taken, the next rail became the "top", so it was soon taken.

Churches - and people - can be too strict. Churches - and people - can be too liberal. There are churches that throw out what the Bible says about premarital sex and homosexuality, and say you can be a Christian and be gay, and have sex outside of marriage. That you can sin daily and go to Heaven. And there are churches that say you cannot own a car or have electric, must wear dark colors and women must wear a covering. Who is right? How liberal is too liberal? How strict is too strict?

People are human. All too often, we want to get by doing as little as we can, but Jesus said this was a narrow way, a hard way. So how on earth do we decide who is right?

I go to a conservative holiness church. Many would brand us as too strict. I see many who used to believe as I do go an easier way. No longer do they look different from the world. They blend in perfectly. I try to be broad-minded and give people the benefit of the doubt, but one has to wonder - why do people try to get by doing as little as possible? Does anyone give God the benefit of the doubt anymore? Does anyone err on the side of caution?

The Bible doesn't spell everything out in black and white, but does give us principles. I wonder if it would matter if it did spell everything out, if it would matter. It plainly says homosexuality is a sin, yet that is argued, and accepted by many. It says it is a shame for a man to have long hair, yet people will argue over and around that and find reasons and excuses to get around it.

Principles. The Bible says to be modest. What does that mean? Where is the line? Again, too many people go as far as they can - the attitude is how much skin can I show, and still be a Christian? Set no evil thing before your eyes - the attitude is how far can I go with what I watch and read and still be Christian?

I have had people question me about my beliefs. Why we believe women should wear dresses/skirts as opposed to pants. Why we don't wear jewelry, even a wedding ring. Why we don't drink alcoholic beverages. Some ask so they can argue. Others really want to know. Not everything we believe can be pointed to in Scripture - the dress/pants issue can be, but is just argued away - but the principles are there.

There is something that in our modern day church world isn't talked about much. Being holy. God said "be holy, as I am holy". If we apply being holy - really apply it - to our lives, I believe it would illuminate some things for us. Would you look at the tattooed & pierced person who says they are a Christian and think they are holy? Or the young woman wearing the tight low cut top with her breasts hanging out for the world to see?

I have had the verse quoted to me many times - too many times - "God looks on the heart, not on the outward". True, but look at the verse in context: Samuel had gone to anoint one of Jesse's sons king of Israel. Jesse thought surely it was the tallest one, the best-looking one, the strongest, but God chose the youngest and smallest - God wasn't talking about what they were wearing - He was talking about something else entirely. God does care how we dress, where we go, what we view - everything that too many people think He doesn't care about.

Yet we can go too far to the left. I have seen some people who were a lot stricter than me fall off the edge and go liberal and throw out everything they formerly believed, so there is a danger of going too far to the right. What we need is a balance - and fences.

Turn the clock back about a hundred years, and all Christians looked the same. What happened? They started taking off the top fence rail. The dresses got shorter, until it became a mini skirt, then pants, then shorts so short they reveal too much. The hair got trimmed a bit, then some more, and soon you can't tell women from men.

There is a couple at my church who got wedding rings. Now she is wearing all kinds of jewelry. She took off the top railing, and then another. Is jewelry wrong? Maybe. God did say to put off the wearing of gold, and that our adorning should not be on the outward. Sounds like a principle to build a fence. Does the Bible say not to drink alcoholic beverages? Some say yes, some say no - who is right? It does say to avoid drunkenness and that wine is a mocker - sounds like God is saying it is better to avoid it.

I am not out to put what I believe on others, but I firmly believe that Christians are going to be different from the world. Look different. Act different. They aren't going to go everywhere the world goes, and engage in every activity that the world engages in.

At some point, some very wise, godly, and holy men & women looked at the Bible, and looked at society and saw where trends could go if there weren't some guidelines, or fences - in place. Are they 100% correct? Do we have to do everything our church teaches and believes to be Christian and go to Heaven? I say a cautious "no", but I think we need to be very careful in what we throw off or let up on. The video & TV is a good example. There is some good on TV - and a lot of bad. Some people can control it, and some can't. I know people I have a lot of confidence in that has a TV, but have also seen people who got one, and soon they had no standards different than the world. Videos/DVD - there are a lot of bad ones, and a lot that just aren't profitable to view - are they completely out for a Christian? No, but one should be very careful in what they view, and just as important - how often. All too many churches have done away with their evening services because people want to stay home and watch TV.

We Christians need to take the Bible and fit our lives around it, not the other way around. Pleasing God should be the most important thing in our lives, not our own entertainment and comfort. Instead of trying to get by with as much as we can and be a Christian, we should give God the benefit of the doubt more, and err on the side of caution - yet not carry it too far. We don't need to sell everything we have and go live in a monastery, or live like the Amish, but we all need to focus more on doing what God wants us to do - not our church, our family, our friends.

The key is balance. Pray and find out what God wants. I have a friend who said she could never wear dresses...........but has she ever listened to God on the issue? Maybe He wants her to, maybe not, but I'm afraid we come to God with our preconceived notions and ideas, and leave no room for Him to change anything. We don't listen, but just assume we are right. Find a church that is going to line up fairly close with what we believe. Are we going to find a church that we agree with 100%? I doubt many people will, but if there are issues we differ on, we should be careful of our attitude about it, and our reasons. I don't agree with my church completely, and don't live up 100% to the rules and beliefs of the church, but to me, they aren't major issues, and if God shows me I am wrong, then with His help and grace, I can change on those issues.

We all need fences. And when we have them, let's be very careful about removing rails, or moving the fence itself. Only God can show us what can be detrimental, if not outright wrong.


Steve-n-Deb said...

I'm sorry to say that you are right. Sorry, because too many people have proven your point. Since I joined Facebook this week, I've seen too many old friends who have chosen a different way.