christian morality

April 11, 2005

People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’ I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other. — CS Lewis in Mere Christianity

Bingo! We often have so much difficulty seeing things as a process. We see action, and end result, but so little in between. Therefore, we reduce the Christian life to trying to be good enough now, so that God will still love us later. What a shame.

This was the same challenge Jesus faced when trying to restore God’s original intent with the Torah. It had simply become a list to make sure you were in God’s favor, but that was not God’s intent for it. As Jesus described in Matthew 22:37-40, all of the Torah and the message of the prophets could simply be wrapped up into love God and love others. All of the teachings in the Torah were geared to set us on the proper path to love God and others.

If I want to fly from Seattle to New York, it’s critical that I get started on the right course from the beginning. Being off by ten degrees won’t seem like much when I first start out, but if I stay on that course, I will end up in Florida. Small steps in the right direction now make a huge difference in who we become later.

When you are weighing through the many choices you make each day, think about who you are becoming. Don’t ask if you will still saved, or if God will still love you based on what you. Ask yourself what kind of person you will be in ten years because of it.

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