In a June 14 letter “Who’s to say who’s Christian” the author questioned what defines a Christian.
I think a better question might be, “Are you Christlike, or just Christian?”
Most professed Christians claim the entire Bible as their guide for their beliefs.
This makes me wonder how they reconcile the Old Testament’s call for revenge (“An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”) and Jesus’ admonishment to “Forgive 70 times 7 times” and to “turn the other cheek.”
What about the Old Testament’s condemnation of homosexuality, adultery, and all other personal acts that it deems “abominations”? Didn’t Jesus teach us “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”?
It seems to me that many professed Christians place almost all their emphasis on the Old Testament, which enables them to condemn the sins of others, and pay attention to Jesus only insofar as his sacrifice supposedly freed them from punishment for their own.
If we are to employ the Bible (rather than our own knowledge and reasoning) as the primary authority for our morals and behavior, I would like to suggest a broader, more loving way to do so.
Let’s say we’ve accepted the notion that the entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments, really is the “divine word of God.”
It seems to me that the world would be a much better place if people would first strive to adopt Jesus’ teachings as a guide for how they behave toward others.
This would allow them to continue to accept the commands and restrictions stated in the Old Testament as the governing principles of their own personal behavior, but at the same time be nonjudgmental, understanding, and forgiving of those whom they see as “sinning.”
After all, did not Jesus say, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”? and “Do not attempt to remove the speck from your brother’s eye until you’ve removed the beam from your own”?
To me, a world full of such people would, for one thing, be a lot quieter. I think it would also be much more loving because, by remembering that we’re all flawed human beings, people would look at others who are behaving “incorrectly” and think first of their own bad traits, and so approach others with humility instead of pride.
But then, humility, which to me is the highest quality to which a human can aspire, is probably the most difficult to attain.
Wayne L. Parker