Christianity Is Not About Morality
I believe that Christianity is not about morality. You’ve probably heard that it is. Many people believe that all Christians want is to influence politics and boycott controversial movies. And Christians like me have sometimes talked as though abolishing slots gambling is our greatest goal. So I ask you now – will you forgive us? If we’ve convinced you that our spirituality comes down to a set of moral principles, then we have misrepresented it.
Christianity is more a story than a system, and all good stories are about people, not just ideas. The center of Christianity is a person. Christians really believe that the Creator of everything is the center of life, and that this Creator loves you fiercely, intensely. Not just people in general, not just human history, but you.
And we believe that He wants you to know Him, the way you know your best friend or your mother’s cooking, the way a great mountain climber knows Everest or Louis Armstrong knew jazz.
And what I’ve discovered is that morality is never going to let me enter that kind of relationship with God. I’m not good or generous enough to merit God’s attention. I don’t really give what I could to others, I don’t exhaust my whole self in trying to make their lives better, I can’t create the kind of just society that I yearn for. No matter how hard I try, my morality is never going to impress God.
Instead, Christians believe that God’s breathtaking goodness came to meet us. We believe that God’s fierce love refused to give up on us, that God pursued us even when we hated Him, like a parent seeking to reconcile with a wayward child. We believe that God became a human just like you or me, and lived in this beautiful and fractured world. We believe that He suffered human failures and problems and outright cruelty, all so that we could know Him. Jesus chose as one of his closest friends a tax collector. Because they cheated the disadvantaged, tax collectors were probably less respected at the time than drug dealers are today.
Jesus ate with people who were a mess, and that’s because He wanted to be their friend and their God even though He knew that their messiness was going to cost Him a lot, as it always costs those who love.
Spending time with Jesus changed people. Tax collectors stopped cheating and gave money away. Self-righteous people gave up their pride and began to care for others. But those good things were the result and not the condition of knowing Jesus. So the heart of our faith is not the desire to impose a system on the world – but if you want to join our story, you’re welcome.
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