Commitment to Christ, High Standards, and Individuality

At church this morning, the sermon was about what holds some people back from making a commitment to Christ.  The pastor mentioned Augustine, but he quoted Augustine as saying that he wanted to make a commitment to Christ, but not quite yet.  Actually, if I’m not mistaken, the story is actually that Augustine prayed at some point that God might make him chaste, but not quite yet!  The pastor may have been trying to be discreet.  At the same time, the pastor did say that Augustine was reluctant to commit to Christ because Augustine wanted to continue to enjoy certain pleasures!

According to the pastor, a reason that some people are hesitant to commit to Christ is that they want to hold on to their individuality.  The thing is, the pastor continued, the way that they can truly find themselves is by committing to Christ.

I’m not entirely sure what people have in mind when they talk about being committed to Christ.  Does that entail things that Christians do—-prayer, Bible reading, doing acts of service, trying not to hurt others, being a kind and gentle person, telling others about Jesus, etc.?  The pastor was talking about the importance of feeding on Christ himself—-there is a banquet, the pastor told us, and Jesus is the meal!

I’ve talked before about my struggles with Christianity.  I find some of its standards to be unrealistically high—-don’t lust, forgive, love other Christians just as Jesus loves you, etc.  And, the thing is, many of the Christians who would get on their high horse and judge me over saying this have themselves not reached the high standards of Christianity.  I’ll give some credit to those who fight nobly against lust, for not every Christian male is the type who visits porn on the Internet on a regular basis (although there are Christian males who struggle with this, and some who don’t struggle but just visit the porn sites).  But do they forgive, or do they redefine forgiveness to mean that you put out of yourself bitterness against another person, without necessarily having to become friends with that person?  Do they truly love each and every believer as Christ loves them, or do they love those who are their friends, while merely being polite (if they’re even that) to those who are outside of their clique?  I don’t fault them for this.  I myself don’t feel compelled to be friends with everyone, and I admit that I don’t love each and every Christian the way that Christ loves me.  But I don’t thump my chest about the authority of Scripture, as do those who do this while bringing down the high standards of Scripture to a more attainable level.

Regarding individuality, granted, there are plenty of times when I feel that being a Christian can compromise a person’s individuality.  My impression is that people become evangelicals and in essence are made into clones that are happy-happy and believe the same thing.  Maybe there’s something to my impression, and yet I doubt that’s the full deal, for behind each happy-happy evangelical is a person with his or her unique story, and his or her own reasons for coming to faith.  Can I become more of an individual by being a Christian?  As I said in my reflections here, there is a sense that I could be who I truly am if I forsook such things as bitterness, pettiness, etc., etc.  I think that, somewhere within each person, there is a desire to love and to be loved, and there are things that stand in the way of that taking place.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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