Disobeying Christ to Bless Him?

I have just started Frank Viola’s (and now George Barna’s) book “Pagan Christianity?” I have few friends who have been jacked by the “church” after spending decades there, and this book is striking a chord with them. So I thought I should read it as I am becoming increasingly convinced by holding what passes for the American Church up to scripture, that… well… it ain’t.

I got through the introduction, but on the page before the preface, Viola has placed this question from Christ to the Pharisees:

Matthew 15:3
“Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? “

I don’t think that is one that I have internalized before. But it is an idea that my husband and I had gotten close to in a letter to our former pastor about the corruption there. I thought I would share that passage here:

“Over and over during our dealing with Bel Air on this problem, we ran into the same ethos. The lie that one can disobey Jesus for the sake of the ministry of Jesus and still be in a relationship with Jesus.”

In both cases, those being confronted have used service to their religion/traditions/methods/process ostensibly as justification for their sin. But as soon as religion/traditions/methods/processes oppose, ignore and trample the word of God, they no longer serve or please God.

They become just another one of man’s worldly ambitions going after his worldly goals, no different than disobeying God for the sake of ones bank account or political career or popularity. Either a process or a ministry approach or a worship method obeys and serves God or it doesn’t. Once it doesn’t any more, it does not matter in what respect it doesn’t, it just matters that it doesn’t.

To disobey Christ to serve tradition, or to serve ministry goals, or to serve the homeless, or to serve your greed, or to serve career ambitions, or to serve your moment of anger, or to serve any end, no matter how lofty or how base you may consider it, is to still to disobey Christ. Why you are doing it is irrelevant.

Chris Rock confronts such a moral dilemma much more plainly:

“You know what they say, “There’s no reason to ever hit a woman.”… There’s a reason to hit everybody. You just don’t do it… there’s a reason to kick an old man down a flight of stairs. You just don’t do it.

It doesn’t matter if you think you have a good reason to sin… just don’t do it.

You cannot disobey Him and glorify Him at the same time. You cannot rebel against Him and be in a right relationship with Him.

And I think possibly the silliest thing that professing Christians do is to justify disobedience to Christ for the sake of the Gospel. “I have to win people to Christ, so I will disobey His direct commands in order to make the gospel more appealing, and thereby win converts”.

“But if we discipline the pastor whom so many come to hear speak on his personal sin, attendance will go down, donations will go down and we won’t be able to rent insert name of massive local venue for our Easter Service and won’t be able to make our city the Greatest City for Christ in America™!”

Because God needs our help to save people?

Because the Holy Spirit is insufficient to convict people of their spiritual bankruptcy and make them long for God’s forgiveness?

Bottom line, we want to do what we want to do to satisfy our desires and ambitions, so we do it. And when we use the traditions and methods that we have invented to supposedly honor God to justify doing what we want to in Christ’s direction, we merely prove our wicked nature, and defend ourselves against having to repent and give up our will to the will of God.

Sin’s circular reasoning.

We are a creative bunch of sinners, aren’t we.

Matthew 18 gives us the clearest direction on what to do when tradition or ministry goals or personal reputation or our job or our relationships or anything causes us to sin. If something has to give, it is not obedience to God, it is the thing that we sinned for.

Matthew 18:8-9

If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.

If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.

A graphic word picture to be sure, but pretty clear that when the believer feels he has to sin in the service of his job, his only choice is to quit his job.

And it is an absolutely clear instruction for this in church leadership that if their ministry requires them, to disobey scripture, the “ministry” has to end.

Because it really was only a ministry to the one supposedly ‘ministering’ and not a ministry to God anyway.

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Author: Ginger Taylor

I am a thirty something wife of a wonderful man and mother to two beautiful boys. I am a Johns Hopkins educated family therapist with a current case load of one, my autistic son Chandler. I want to God and what He really has to say to us and especially what He really wants from me. I approach Scripture from the Reformed perspective of Luther and Calvin and those that followed them, and encourage lively debate here at Daily Discernment.

4 thoughts on “Disobeying Christ to Bless Him?”

  1. Just read your “Disobeying Christ to bless Him” article. I”m wondering…just how far you would take what you said personally. How about the traditions of man that have nothing to do with Jesus, the bible, but all to do with the traditions of man which have been given Christian names to justify their existence? For instance, celebrating Christmas and Easter?
    Christmas is only about 149 years old in America. And Easter is pagan, even at Jesus’ time.
    I know, you’ve heard all this before. I’m just wondering how far you want to take blessing Jesus while yet sinning. “Christmas” (with tree) is not allowed in scripture, while acknowledging His birth and means in which He was born (manger) certainly IS in the Bible. Zech. 14:18 is where you’ll find God’s insistence on acknowledging just that (which will be in the millennium).
    And Easter. Well, there’s plenty on that subject anywhere!
    Specifically, the word itself, “Easter,” is of pagan origin. Check out http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org/tracts/tract1.html to get the whole story. There is one fallacy in that page, tho, and that being “The true Passover and pagan Easter sometimes coincide,” which can never be true, since Passover’s next holiday is “Feast of First Fruits,” which ALWAYS falls on the following Sunday, and is never more than 5 days away from that Sunday. Actually, easter should be called “Feast of First Fruits,” which scripture itself calls Jesus, “Our First Fruits.”
    So, my “thing” being, don’t celebrate easter, but First Fruits on that Sunday. Passover wouldn’t be bad, either.
    What do you think? Thanks. Judy Rempe

  2. “just how far you would take what you said personally?”

    Well I am working that out in my life now. That is pretty much what this blog is about. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” category.

    Frankly, I have always thought of Christmas and Easter as extras. More “Americana” than Christian. I have always been aware that these were merely mergings of Christian hallmarks with existing pagan celebrations in order to convert the heathens. Outreach programs if you will. And these holidays certainly belong to the American public, both wheat and tears.

    And culturally I am pretty sure that Christmas was actually invented by Charles Dickens.

    I have always used these occasions to worship the God that I would have worshiped already.

    So do I stop buying a Christmas trees and Easter baskets all together? Or do I just observe these American holidays just like I do the 4th of July and Thanksgiving, calling them what they are, cultural events that mark specific social values. Not pretending that they are actually anything that God has asked of me or that he is somehow blessed by my observance of said traditions.

    Or… do I stop observing ALL American (pagan ) holidays because they are all just celebrations of worldly events and values?

    Have not gotten there yet… good question…

    Thanks for bringing it up… will get back to this when I have a more well thought answer.

  3. Hi, I just stumbled across this site and noticed this topic. How good to see that some are finally digging their heels in and demanding that Christians behave like Christians!
    I had, for many years wondered how God feels about all sorts of things that troubled my conscience. Christmas and Easter were only two observances that were pagan in origin. There are many more beliefs that have their roots in Babylon.

    Knowing the origins of celebrations that are simply renamed pagan festivals, I also wondered how God felt about Christians going to war. In our patriotic fervor can we as Christians, really take up arms against those whom Christ has commanded us to love? We are to love one another as Christ loved us…that means laying down our lives for our fellow Christians, not taking up weapons against them.
    In the two world wars Catholic killed Catholic, Protestant killed Protestant while both were ostensibly praying to the same God for victory. If the soldiers on each side was fed propaganda and convinced of the ‘rightness’ of the war and encouraged to fight for their country against the ‘enemy’; each with justification in their heart that what they were doing was noble and just, then how does one follow the command of Christ to love one another? Can we love our fellow Christians with a gun, a tank or a bomb? Even if that person is not a fellow Christian, what about the command to ‘love our neighbor as ourselves’? In using the illustration of the ‘good Samaritan, Jesus demonstrated that our neighbor can be someone of another nation. Does “thou shalt not kill” still apply?
    When I researched this subject, I discovered that the first Christians would not serve in the military for this very reason.
    Can we disobey Christ to serve our country’s political ambitions?
    Another point to ponder…

    Kind regards,
    Jane

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