What are you for?
While studying for Sunday’s upcoming sermon, I came across an article in the Christian Post addressing what unbelievers would like to hear from Christians. The article stated that unbelievers would like to know what Christians are in favor of more than what Christians are against. As I thought about this introspectively, I realized that I struggled with navigating within the tension between the negative and positive descriptions of faith in God.
From the negative means that we primarily conceptualize, describe, and define Christianity by WHAT IT IS NOT. From the positive means that we primarily conceptualize, describe, and define Christianity by WHAT IT IS. When we list the sins that we are supposed to avoid and the habits that steal our affections from God, we describe Christianity from the negative. However, when we describe the promises of God, the blessings associated with knowing Jesus Christ, and how we participate in spiritual disciplines we describe Christianity from the positive. Why does this matter? Well… both are required of us!
In John 3:36 Jesus says, “Whoever believes (positive) in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey (negative) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on Him.”
The more I look at Jesus in His word, the more I see that Jesus perfectly navigated between the negative and positive descriptions of godly faith. However, the more I listen to how I preach and speak the more I realize that I primarily describe Christianity from the negative. On the other hand, I often hear people who describe Christianity exclusively from the positive. The danger is immense for both camps!
You see, for those of us who define and understand our faith from the negative, we fail to see the deep rewards, joy, and blessings that are found in Jesus. Our immense struggle against sin causes us to fail to enjoy the presence and work of God because. Conversely, for those that view Christianity only from the positive, they often lose a hatred for sin. That is, when one looks at only the blessings and promises from God, there is a tendency to forget and ignore the fact that God commands obedience and a rejection of sin. One camp loses joy. One camp loses holiness. The result? Neither truly represent the amazing saving work of Jesus Christ!
However, when we look at Jesus, we see a perfect harmony between avoiding sin (from the negative) and enjoying the Father (from the positive). This is why Christ is our example. We all fall, we all fail, we all lean to one side or the other—but Jesus is the absolute perfect example of resisting sin and abiding in fellowship with the Father. Bearing this in mind, let’s examine ourselves today in order to see where we are at on the spectrum between the negative and positive.
In our struggle against sin it is easy for us to lose our joy in Christ. In our desire to enjoy Christ it is easy for us to fail to struggle against sin. While we are on this earth, we live in a fallen and imperfect state. You and I will constantly waffle between the tension to abuse grace (indulging in sin) and the rejection of grace (legalism). The middle ground is where we must rest. It is the place where we believe in the work of God leading us to eternal life and we also adamantly reject the sin that God hates through the power of God. It is the place where we abide in the love of God and the holiness of God. So… how are you doing with this?
I hope this leads you to draw near to Jesus today! I look forward to worshiping with you this Wednesday at 7pm.