Friday, May 29, 2015

Is Christianity Restrictive?

I just find the evangelical church too, well, restrictive.
Hugh Jackman

I found this quote in a blog post titled Hugh Jackman, meet Jesus. The article discusses that Hugh Jackman is going to be playing the role of Apostle Paul in an upcoming movie which then led to his own views of Christianity. Apparently Hugh Jackman grew up in Christianity and often went to Billy Graham crusades with his father but as an adult has rejected Christianity due to it's "restrictions". 

So is Christianity restrictive?

The author of the above blog post, Carlos Rodriguez, implies that it is sad that Christianity was presented to Hugh Jackman as restrictive. He states that Christianity is about freedom not restrictions quoting the scripture:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free..." (Galatians 5:1)

Obviously this is true. Christ has set us free from the yoke of bondage that previously entangled us. That yoke of bondage is of course referring to sin and we are free to not sin anymore. We have the freedom to live righteous lives. However when understood in context, the very scripture quoted by Carlos, in a sense, presents restriction as well as freedom. True, unrestricted, freedom would say "you are free now do whatever you want" but this is not what Paul is saying. 

Paul is saying that Christ set us free for a purpose, so that we could walk in that freedom. 

It is true that too many Christians focus too much on the restrictions. We should be focusing first and foremost on the unconditional love and acceptance that Christ is offering to the world however we must not forget that He also commanded us to "die to self" and to "take up our cross". However when we accept the restrictions that Christ gave us then we begin to truly see and experience the full freedom of the Gospel. When we dive into a relationship with Christ rather than just the religion of Christianity then we recognize that the restrictions are not really restrictions at all. 

So is Christianity restrictive? 

Yes. As a religion Christianity is restrictive. Hugh Jackman is 100% right. 

But is Christianity restrictive? 

No. A true relationship with Christ is the most freeing thing ever. Carlos is 100% right.

But here's the thing, the more I think about it the more I feel that we can't have one without the other. We love to make the statement that Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship but can we truly have the relationship of Christianity without the religion of Christianity? Can we truly love Christ without recognizing the commands that He gave us? 

"If you love me, keep my commandments..." (John 14:15) 

I am not advocating a works based salvation. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior we are saved and it is simply by His grace. We can't do anything to earn our salvation and we can't do anything to make ourselves more righteous because we are already the righteousness of God through Christ. However, I do believe that the depth of our relationship with His Jesus can be directly dependent on our willingness to obey His commands. And His commands are very restrictive.

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