The Kingdom of Heaven: No Requirements, No Prior Knowledge Assumed

A common misconception about Christianity is that there is some kind of list of requirements. Of course, Christians frequently try to debunk this myth, and I’m sure that few beleivers have been ridiculous enough to openly suggest it. And yet, the idea still gets around, and it’s probably Christians’ fault for propagating it.

So, like many others have before me, I am here to say that it is NOT true at all. Who did Jesus associate with? Tax collectors (considered very immoral), adulterers, lunatics, and all the others that decent Jews shunned.

You don’t need to be rich to be a Christian. I think that one is obvious, but I thought I would say it just in case you saw televangelists and got the wrong idea. If you are poor, God can provide for you.

You don’t need to be poor to be a Christian. God will humble you and be your All in All.

You don’t need to be a happy medium or somewhere in the middle to be cherished by the Lord of Lords

You don’t need to be a “good person.” In the Lord, you will bear truly good fruits in due time.

You don’t need to be popular or well-liked. The Lord will be your friend and comfort.

You don’t need to be a hermit. If God wills it, you will bring your friends with you into the glorious light.

You don’t need to be “beautiful,” true beauty is within.

You don’t need to be plain, the Lord will set a mirror before your soul.

You don’t need to be sober, for true sobriety comes only from God.

You don’t need to be chaste, passion can only be tamed by divine intervention.

You don’t need to be straight, for no man is upright. (Romans 3:10)

You don’t need to be healthy, for the healthy don’t need a Doctor (Matthew 9:12)

You don’t need to be married, but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided… (1 Corinthians 7:33-34)

You don’t need to be single, For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Corinthians 7:16)

You don’t need to be unwell, but rejoice in your health!

You don’t need to be sane, this I know for sure

You don’t need to be self-righteous; in fact, you really shouldn’t be

You don’t need to be loving, because God has enough love to go around

You don’t need to put on a good show, God sees what is within as well as what is on the surface

Shall I go on?

You don’t need to be strong, …God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong (1 Corinthians 1:27 NASB)

You don’t need to be weak, for the church needs its pillars

You don’t need to be wise or educated, God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27)

You don’t need to be a fool, but The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10)

Do you get the point yet? Have I included everyone? You don’t need to be self-controlled either. And ladies, you don’t need to be a size 0, okay?

Perhaps this is so hard to understand because almost everything that we want to do or be a part of in life that is “worthwhile” seems to have some prerequisites. Getting a good job, getting into college, being part of an organization or club. We even evaluate others and are evaluated when we are making friends. Not to mention relationships. But to God, worldly merit is nothing. He created all of us, and he knows all of us. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses, He knows all the things that we’ve done, and even the things that we ourselves have forgotten about. That doesn’t stop Him from loving us!

And yet, I regret to say that just because there are no prerequisites doesn’t mean that there is nothing at all that we should change about ourselves once we have come to see the Truth. Heaven forbid we should stay the same! This is why people think Christians are self-righteous, prudish, and hypocritical, because we say this. But how can we not say this when it is in our Bible that we profess to believe? How can we not apply this to ourselves and encourage others to do the same? It is not we who made this up, but God.

Yet I am here to say that we should not be striving to fit the mold of our church, of the believers around us. I don’t know about other parts of the world, but America has a long and regrettable tradition of this. Once we have come to know Christ, we should try to fit His mold.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; and behold, new things have come.

2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB

We must put on sincerity and love (this is the theme of 1 Corinthians). The truth is, people will always call us hypocrites, even if we are not being particularly hypocritical. People accused Jesus and John the Baptist of being hypocritical too(Matthew 11:18-19)! But perhaps if we stop caring what other people think, we will become more sincere, and maybe people won’t accuse us so much. Or maybe, feeling threatened, they will accuse us even more. But the good news is that it only matters what God thinks, He is the only judge of the hearts of men and the final judge of our fruits.

 

 

 

 

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What Is Expected of Disciples of Christ (The World of Faith/Works/The Law Visited)

From reading the New Testament, we get the impression that we cannot be saved by doing good things. Which is true, of course. No one wants to just follow a bunch of rules anyway. And yet, a little guidance never hurt. 

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

-Matthew 5:20

I’ll bet you never memorized that verse in Sunday School. But there’s got to be something to it, otherwise why would Jesus have said it? Does it have some kind of non-literal meaning? Maybe. Was it a little rude of me to just rip it out of context? Probably. I’ll help you out a little with the context thing, here’s the verse that comes before it: 
Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

I think that probably helped a little bit. 

I’ve heard it preached before, probably more than once, that true love for Christ will result in obedience. Therefore, we must obey. But what does that mean? Do we need to have more good deeds and less bad deeds tallied up than the Pharisees?

I think it’s important to address that the Pharisees were bound by different laws than modern Christians, because much of our doctrine is based on the teachings of Jesus, the same one who got mad at Pharisees frequently. 

The important question lingers… are we required to do good? I can’t really answer yes. You know what happens when I say yes- I sound like some kind of pre-destination whacko type who harasses teens for dancing. And you know what happens when I say no- I sound like the anything-goes-as-long-as-your-heart-is-in-the-right-place-spiritually type. And if I say yes and no, then I have portrayed Christianity as an impossible paradox.

So I will omit an answer. I don’t need to answer this question, God already has. Paul has written pages and pages on this topic. I think that implies that it’s hard to answer the question in a couple sentences. But here is what I will say.

You can be saved through the love, mercy, and sacrifice of Christ. It’s not because you saved a toddler from a burning building (although if you really did that, I must admit that’s pretty awesome).

But if God didn’t care what we did with our lives, why did he give us guidelines through his son Jesus? To name a few:

Resisting greed (1Timothy 6:8)

Loving enemies (Matthew 5:43-44)

Turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39-40)

Helping the poor and needy (Matthew 9:35)

Fleeing from sexual immorality (Hebrews 13:4)

Not complaining (Philippians 2:14)

Not getting drunk (Ephesians 5:18)

Not swearing (Colossians 3:8)

Not getting angry at people (Matthew 5:22)

Is this hard? Uh… yeah. That’s why we have to ask for God’s help. Christ fulfilled the law, making it a bit more comprehensive, but also giving us the forgiveness, love,  and aid that we need that we need to do His will. Now all nations will know about God. No more burnt offering and wars- but now our task is to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). 

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20