So what’s the answer? Sometimes the accusation is true…The answer is to change the idea of what it means to have fun. I like the word Peace; I like the thought of searching for meaning in life. I know I have a lot of fun in the process. The person who is trying to find a life of fun through parties and proclaims Christianity is boring is probably saying more about themselves than about Christianity! They are trying to convince themselves they are on the right track!
Rom. 14:19 talks about mutual edification ~ more than tolerating each other, more than agreeing to disagree, it means appreciating and honoring and respecting and affirming even those with whom you may not see eye to eye.
I believe “fun” should be banished as the goal. Listen again to these words: Every Christian I've ever talked to is so monotonous and God-fearing, it's hard to be around them... Why can't they just let loose and have fun? The assumption is that fun is the goal. If self-fulfillment and fun is your goal, it will be forever elusive.
May the quality of your life be measured by the peace you experience, not the pleasure. Peace within me and peace between us. Learn to appreciate others, enjoying others through mutual edification, and everyone wins.
How do you find peace when Christians think so differently? It’s a great principle established by God: Limited Liberty. I love the story of that took place a number of years ago when the statue of liberty was being cleaned and restored. A little boy was with his mother as they passed by Lady Liberty with all of the scaffolding. “Look,” said the boy to his mother, “Liberty in a cage.” That is a perfect description: freedom has limits.
As Christians we are completely free, but freedom is Limited ~ READ Rom. 14:20b “All Food is clean…but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble” i.e. anything goes, but there are limits. You are completely free, keeping rules does not save you, but you can’t hurt others in the process. The person who said “Christianity is monotonous” is in search of freedom without restrictions! That never works! The truth is that freedom comes with responsibility. I read about an group that is trying to get traction to create a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast to act as a book-end to the Statue of Liberty on the east coast….makes sense to me… In Christ we have great freedom, but the freedom is limited to do that which is right. You don’t have the freedom to hurt others. You don’t have the freedom to sin.
But Christianity is about freedom, not law keeping. “All food is clean” is a way of saying living as a Christian is not about rule keeping. Unless something is explicitly commanded in scripture, we have freedom: who to marry or not get married at all, where to live, whether or not to observe certain holidays, eating meat or being a vegetarian, what job to get, what church to attend...As a pastor I NEVER tell anyone what they ought to do on any of these issues. I may have advice if someone wants my opinion. I have strong opinions about the character of who makes the best spouse ~ but ultimately it is between you and God! None of these choices makes any difference to your salvation.
You are free! Absolutely free. But with freedom comes responsibility. You are not free to cause a brother or sister to stumble. You are not free to sin. No one has the “freedom” to lust, the “freedom” to hate, the “freedom” to steal, the “freedom” to covet, the “freedom” to lie, the “freedom” to commit adultery or the “freedom” to disobey God. You have the ability to do all those things, but everyone of them does not lead to freedom, they lead to slavery. They surely do not bring peace or mutual edification.
Having rules would be a whole lot easier than having freedom. That is what the cults are all about, pseudo-Christian religions. Really strict Churches have a lot of rules. Some groups tell you exactly how to think, precisely what to believe in great detail. Freedom with limits is the Christ way of having a satisfying and adventuresome life ~ you could even say it is a whole lot of fun.
Peace is the goal. Freedom to make responsible decisions is what makes the Christian life so satisfying because my life is going to look so much different from yours. I bet if I compare my bucket list to your bucket list it’s going to look so different. I’ve already accomplished just about everything I can think of for me to have a rather satisfying and amazing life, [some people may call it monotonous and boring, but I challenge that kid to walk beside me for a week!] ~ I have at least one thing I still want to do before I die! Sally says she will go with me. I want to go on an African safari (with my camera) and see real elephants in the wilds of Africa. I have the freedom in Christ to pursue that goal, and as long as I don’t rob a bank to fund it, I am thinking that God is blessing the dream. Whether it becomes a reality is an entirely different matter. You may decide that would be a colossal waste of money and I should give the money to the poor instead. For me, I disagree for a lot of reasons, and thankfully the scripture addresses how we should handle our impasse. We could argue all day and get nowhere. So this is what the Bible says.
READ Rom. 14:22a. Silence
Christians may come to opposite conclusions. I say it is ok for me to spend a lot of money on a luxury vacation and you say it isn’t. The Answer? Why bother talking about it. As a Spanish Proverb says, "If you keep your mouth shut, the flies won't get in." The conviction of your heart before God is what matters. The Bible also says to be consistent in whatever responsible decision you come to before God. READ Rom. 14:22a. Inconsistency is the worst testimony of all.
We don’t all have to think the same on every point or act the same way. Inside the church you can find incredible diversity on such matters as whether or not to get married, where to work, the friends you choose, the places you go, the habits you acquire, the hobbies you pursue, the books you read, the music you prefer, the clothes you wear, and the food you eat and the things you drink. Your only limits are those imposed by the principles of the Bible. On lesser matter we will often come to differing–if not entirely opposite–conclusions. How will we all get along? The answer is not difficult if we take Paul’s words seriously: Hold your convictions and . . Hold your tongue!
Years ago I knew a church fairly well and I knew the worship leaders owned a bar. I personally had problems with that at the time, but I held my tongue…
What Romans is saying ~ don’t get into pointless arguments. And getting into pointless arguments is probably why the world thinks Christians have no fun!
One more God given guide to help us make decisions. God gave us this thing called a conscience: READ Romans 14:23. “The man who doubts…” = conscience.
A man consulted a doctor. “I’ve been misbehaving, Doc, and my conscience is troubling me,” he complained. The doctor replied, “And you want something that will strengthen your willpower?” “Well, no,” said the fellow. “I was thinking of something that would weaken my conscience.”
If you have chosen a lifestyle, or made decisions in your life that are getting you no-where, it’s your conscience that is speaking to you. The still small voice that is whispering in your heart. You know in your heart when something is not quite right. A conscience is good because it is God’s way of speaking into your life. Guiding you. Ever wish you didn’t have a conscience because you just want to fit in?
Sometimes your conscience will tell you, “Don’t do that. Don’t touch that. Don’t join that club. Don’t take that job. Don’t go to that movie. Don’t date that girl (or guy).” There are some places you just can’t go. There are some shows you shouldn’t watch on TV, and there are songs you shouldn’t listen to because they pull you down spiritually. And maybe your list is different from mine! There are some books you can’t read because they won’t do you any good. There are some people you shouldn’t hang around with and some jobs you shouldn’t take. I have personal rules that if I violate them I feel terribly guilty, but I don’t hold you to the same standards.
Follow your conscience. Don’t do something you believe to be wrong even if others are doing it. You can keep silent. You don’t have to be the moral police and correct everybody. It is between you and God. Your conscience may not always be reliable because sin may get in the way, but when your conscience is informed by the Word of God, guided by the Holy Spirit, and submissive to the will of God, you may follow your conscience with confidence.
Peace is the goal. Live in obedience to God and the fun/the satisfaction will come, but that is not the goal. Peace comes when you finally figure out freedom has limits. In Christ we are always free to do what is right, but never what is wrong. The sixth grade boys were unruly this week at VBS. Monday I heard the teacher tell the boys they were not to swear or throw things at people’s heads. On Wednesday I heard the same speech, only the teacher sounded like she wanted to cry! I became the enforcer and threatened the boys. As I lined them up to take the group picture I ambushed them and told them that from now on the teacher was the judge and jury and I was the jailor. Zero tolerance from now on. Everything changed. By Friday the teacher said it was the best class ever. The boys found freedom to enjoy the day, freedom to be kids, to quit posturing, competing. The boys found the limitations of freedom. The best freedom has limits because it must always include respecting others, limiting sin and destructive behavior. If you still aren’t sure how to find peace through limited freedom, God says to not get into pointless arguments about the convictions of your heart, but be silent, and to listen for God’s voice through your conscience.
Living for God, finding the peace of Christ, encouraging others, is the most awesome and satisfying way of living, the limits of freedom so you can always choose between so many right choices knowing God will guide each of us according to his desires for our lives, nobody else needs to make the same decisions as you, it’s between you and God, and as you follow the Lord, he will tell you what is right and wrong through your conscience. Make every effort to do what leads to peace! Amen.