Some formed up thought from chatting with a friend the other day about how we talk about what we do as Christians. We were chatting to his unbelieving mates and their big questions about God were stuff like ‘Does God hate it when you swear?‘ and ‘If I say f*#@ will God condemn me?‘
Now in my head I’m thinking well, actually we’re all screwed because we’ve all rejected God – that’s the heartbeat of the second half of Romans 1, right? But how do I convey that to someone who’s view of a Christian is made up of a list of things you can’t do. If my student housemates are munching hash cakes, why shouldn’t I have a slice? If I do, does it show I’m free. If I don’t, does it reinforce the rule-based definition of what a Christian is in their heads?
We reckoned that a really important way to helpfully portray the Christian life is by encouraging people to see that our ‘faith’ is not a merely spiritual-realm-thing but actually a physical thing – it affects your day-to-day actions. That seems to be what was going on in 1 Corinthians, with the Christians reckoning that it was the spiritual that mattered, therefore they could do what they like with their bodies (including major incest for one).
But Paul’s response was to remind them their bodies were the Lord’s. It was my experience that it’s very easy to explain to your mate on the football social that the reason you don’t want to get hammered at the bar is “because you’re a Christian”, but really that contains no sense of what Christianity is. You may as well say you’re not getting wasted because you’re a Muslim, or because you’re against the abuse of underpaid Chinese alcopop bottlers… or something.
But actually we’re in relationship with the living God – we know our King Jesus, and we want to live for him both in thankfulness and to please Him. Surely, that is what we want to convey, and before we convey anything, what we want to be thinking as we live each day.