The Error

Galatians-cover-1The thing that God doesn’t like is the failure to acknowledge His holiness, His wholeness. The failure to see the wholeness of a thing is the failure to see its essential character because it is its wholeness that defines it as the thing that it is. The failure to understand God’s holiness amounts to a failure to stand under His wholeness. People do this when they engage in compartmentalization, the unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by having conflicting values, knowledge, emotions, beliefs, etc., within themselves. That experience is also called cognitive dissonance, or a lack of personal integrity. Cognitive dissonance occurs when one’s expectations (beliefs, hopes, dreams, etc.) conflict with reality. It is quite common.

The most obvious example of compartmentalization is found in the homosexual justification that Christianity has nothing to do with same sex marriage, that faith and marriage are unrelated. This argument is heard often among supporters of same sex marriage. In an Oregon case a baker refused to make a cake for a same sex marriage because he believes that participation in a religious ceremony that celebrates a sin is not pleasing to God. He believes that part of his Christian faith involves honoring God in all things and especially in worship, and such a celebration does not honor God and is a service of worship. He is being sued by a same sex couple for discrimination of them on the basis of their sexual preference, which is forbidden by law.

The baker argues that his choice to honor his conscience is foundational to his Christian faith, that he should be allowed that expression as a First Amendment right, and that no harm is done to the couple because other bakers are willing to work with them. The couple argues that the baker is discriminating illegally against them on the basis of their sexual preference, and that their right to equal treatment in the public square violates their constitutional rights and existing law. They argue that the practice of Christianity has nothing to do with the baker baking them a cake—and this is the error that demonstrates their failure to understand Christianity and the denial of God’s wholeness, His holiness.

This errant view issues from the failure to understand Christian worship, and is quite common, even among Christians. The common understanding is that worship is what happens at church on Sunday mornings. This in itself is not wrong, worship includes Sunday morning services. But it is woefully inadequate to the fullness of the meaning of worship that we are called to in Christ Jesus.

The worship service is structured to model how we are to live as Christians, how we are to honor Christ, and relate to Him through prayer, praise, and fellowship. It is pedagogical. The worship service is more like training in Christian living than the actual practice of living in Christ. On Sunday mornings we learn how we are to live in Christ, and our worship, the worship of the laity, the liturgy of the people happens during the ordinary living of their lives—at home, at school, at work, at play, wherever they are, twenty-four seven.

Thus, the baker who professes to be a Christian on Sunday mornings is expected to act like a Christian at work. So, His Christian faith does impact how he behaves at work. The admonition to avoid sin applies very much to his working life. The holiness of God in Christ demands the wholeness of Christian faithfulness at all times and in all places.

This error begins in the churches, and is very common among Christians of all sorts. The common belief is that Christian worship is limited to Sunday mornings and is fulfilled by attending worship services. Pastors and churches have encouraged this belief for eons as a way to establish Christianity in society, and to ensure the continuity of the church as a social institution. Their jobs depend on it.

But it is not biblical! God views it as a kind of faithlessness, and that faithlessness among Christians has allowed the scourge of increasing sin in society—sins of every sort. Sin is not a thing, it’s an activity. Sin is a team sport that has many members who work in many different ways to advance its flag, its cause. Thus, sins cluster. Where one is found, others also lurk. This error is as old as sin itself, and is the central sin that the prophets railed against. It is the central sin that Jesus came to correct. It is not a minor issue, but is central to the faithful practice of biblical Christianity.

However, much confusion exists about it because so many Christians and churches fail to understand it, or inadequately understand and teach it. So, Christians themselves in large numbers don’t understand or practice genuine holistic faithfulness in Christ, which means that the watching world—those who are not Christians—learn about Christianity from this errant model. The world then thinks that this errant model is Christianity, and rejects it. And rightly so! That model needs to be rejected by everyone!

The wholeness of real Christianity reflects the holiness of God. Just as holiness is central to God’s character, wholeness is central to Christianity. And wholeness means that life in Christ impacts everything that Christians think, say, and do—everything. The holiness of Christianity impacts everything, no aspect of life is excluded.

–from Galatians–Backstory / Christstory (forthcoming Dec. 2015)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *