If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. SO speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:8-13)
As we know, God is not a biased judge. He does not care about our ethnic backgrounds, our beauty, our poverty, or our country of origin. Further, I believe that Christ's command to us in John 13:34-35 expands upon what James quoted. Indeed, I believe that "loving one another" as Christ has loved us is the ultimate example of neighbor love. And lest we forget, Jesus loved us "while we were yet sinners" (Romans 5:8).
This brings me to something that has been in my mind since I read Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. I reviewed it here somewhere, and if you can find it you'll know more about what I said than I do. I have mostly forgotten. However, I do remember that overall, I mostly enjoyed the book. Hopefully, that doesn't mean that I lose all my street cred as a snooty, Reformed guy. Be that as it may, I enjoyed the book.
There were parts of that book that I didn't like. I try to be careful with the things that I say, all potty posts aside. Sometimes, I felt that Miller pushed the envelope. But that's fairly small compared to the thing that really bugged me about the book. The thing that has stuck with me for months now is that Donald Miller would probably like everyone but me because I am a mean fundamentalist.
While I agree that we should extend the common love and courtesy due to all men as image bearers, habitual sin irks me. It doesn't anger me so bad in people who do not claim to be Christians. I expect that. But when people who claim to be Christians seem to be pushing the envelope in the name of "Christian Freedom," I get antsy very fast.
It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode. Jerry had a dentist who was a Roman Catholic and an amateur comedian. The RC dentist converts to Judaism and starts telling "Jewish" jokes to Jerry. Jerry is jealous, it seems, that the dentist is now able to tell both Catholic and Jewish jokes because the dentist has become "one of them." So, Jerry goes and complains to the priest. Jerry says, "Hey, this dentist is converted to Judaism just so he can tell jokes." The priest says with concern, "This offends you as a Jew?" Jerry exclaims, "No! It offends me as a comedian!"
I get the same feeling when I am around Christians who love to assert their freedom to do certain things because they are "free in Christ." Unfortunately, I lack the discernment that Jerry had. I can't figure out if I am offended as a teetotaler, a Baptist, or a Christian, or simply because I am an idiot. But the bottom line is, I do not like tatoos, pierced ears in men, and most rated "R" movies. While I'm being totally honest, I'll admit that I do not like most movies and most television.
So, does this make me a colossal jerk, a legalist, and unsanctified? Perhaps it does. I feel like clarifying, so I will. I actually do not mind tatoos and piercings of various kinds on Christians who did that sort of thing while they were living apart from Christ. It doesn't even phase me. The actual thing that bothers me is when people who say that they are Christians insist that they can do such things even if it offends the sensibilities of every member of the Church. All this in the name of freedom.
It is the same thing that irks me about anyone who pushes the envelope; they have just enough space and "freedom" to keep themselves from real rebuke. They are masters of knowing where the line is, tip toeing up to it, then backing off. And folks like me, whose duty it is to know where that line is drawn, have to be constantly irritated by such behavior. It is fantastic fun for the line walker, but none for me.