Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Line in the Sand

If there’s one thing that we’re good at as Christians, it is drawing a line in the sand. The question is whether or not that’s what God wants us to do. Or are we doing it because of something we think we want God to do. To be honest, I think we do it because it gives us comfort. On one side is right. On the other side is wrong. This gives us a clear sense of how we should live our lives and clearly defines sin. But it’s just not that simple. We especially have problems when we apply this type of thinking to movies, music, television, dress, customs or other lifestyle choices. Sometimes the Bible is clear, such as in the case of murder, adultery or putting God first in your life. Other times, it requires the ability to listen to that still, small voice inside of us.

I had an encounter a few years ago that helps illustrate my point when we draw a line in the sand that makes absolutely no sense. I was producing a television program called The Zone which was airing on major cable and satellite outlets across the United States. The program had a live audience, and I was talking to a youth pastor about bringing his kids to be part of one of our tapings. Now mind you, this was a fairly large church located in the suburbs of a major city. This wasn’t in the backwoods. The youth pastor told me I was wrong to produce a program such as The Zone. And he had no interest in being part of it. He believed I was leading kids to commit sin.

We were playing contemporary Christian music. That doesn’t sound sinful to me. He didn’t have a problem with the lyrics. His problem was with the beat. He was convinced it would lead to the moral degradation of our society because it encouraged our youth to fornicate. I can’t make this stuff up. He had drawn a line in the sand. Does the Bible have anything to say about the style or the beat of any musical type. I don’t think so. Is this any way to engage the world?

Here’s another example. When I was in Bible college, during daily chapel, the President of the college made these remarks: He had stood on the corner in downtown Cincinnati and observed the coming and going of the daily commuters. After one hour, he had concluded that he had not seen one Christian walk by. He went on to make his point that our society was turning away from God. What did he base his conclusions on? What evidence did he see? His standard was on personal appearance. What type of clothes were they wearing? Makeup? Jewelry? Hairstyle? That was his standard for holiness. He drew a line in the sand. If you were on the wrong side, you were in sin. Did God ask him to do this? I suppose it makes our job so much easier if we can just look at somebody and determine if he or see is a believer. Perhaps, it gives us some comfort.

Final thought.

Yes these are radical examples. But I’m sure on some level we’re all drawing a line in the sand when it’s not necessary. I know we do it because we want to know what we have to do to be right with God. Just give me a list and I’ll follow it.

I know the Bible is our guide, and the Holy Spirit does instructs us. But we have to be part of the process to understand how to live our life in order to honor God.. And often, there is no clear line in the sand, but that doesn’t give us a license to do anything we want. I also don’t have any interest in creating obstacles for those who are seeking a relationship with Christ. Maybe this will give us fresh eyes when we think about movies, dress, and other such issues.

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