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Lush Home Page - Myth #2


Christians are often accused of having a negative religion. Many people think that Christians are boxed in by an extensive list of "do's" and "don'ts." They seem opposed to life and freedom. Both thier personality and behaviour are constricted. Theirs is an "uptight" boring relgion.

Unfortunately, this kind of legalism is often true of many christians. But this does not characterize the biblical perspective on Christian life and values.

Is there an alternative to the legalistic box? Is it the open-ended permissiveness of modern society? Many have felt pressured to take this position. However, this total rejection of traditional Christian values is often tragically based on misunderstanding of the genuine item. The Christian ethic is distinctive on both personal and social levels. It is a positive alternative to both legalism and permissiveness.

The basic Christian conviction on values is that God's norms result in freedom. We are not forced into a straitjacket. Rather, God's standards act as a skeletal structure which gives life form and meaning. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31,32)

The Christian ethic is structured, but it is also deeply personal. It is based on and motivated by a personal relationship with God himself. It is not arbitrary, chaotic, or irresponsible. It is discovered in living richly with the parameters God has set out.

By living within these parameters, we find our identity and fulfillment. Christians don't have to fit into a mould: they are not meant to be clones. Instead, the guidlines God has given for living unleashe creativity. Christians are motivated to express themselves in fresh ways, thereby bringing life and vitality to others.

But God's norms also orient us towards our neighbour. They move us in the direction of a positive, constructive, and caring lifestyle. At the same time they move us away from a selfish, bigoted, and destructive one. These norms, based in the very character of a perfect God, provide a foundation upon which we can build our lives and discern right from wrong. They also provide an objective reference point to resolve relational conflicts. The Christian ought to be oriented to making a free and unselfish contribution to humanity. Thus, the Christian ethic has form and freedom to prevent the extremes of irresponsibility and legalism.

Moreover, Christian norms go beyond individual relationships. Christians are mandated to be concerned about such matters as social justice, the poor, the environment, and the sanctity of life. While they do not have ready-made answers to all moral problems, Christians at least have a firm starting point and a framework within which to work and think. They are challenged with God's perspective on life and are called to love God and all humanity with all they are and have.

Far from stifling freedom, Christian values are challenging and liberating. They provide what is, in fact, a very strong affirmation of life

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