Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity

Salvation Is Free. Our Time Is Not.

When it comes to the word, “free,” let’s focus on this image of freedom, as opposed to the concept of not paying people for their time and skill. Spirit of the Canyon by Steve Henderson.

Too many Christians have a thing about the word “free.”

When it comes to the free gift of salvation that Jesus willingly hands us, we’re convinced that there’s a catch somehow, and it seriously can’t be as easy as it sounds.

Yes, we’re saved, but in order to “prove” that we are involves a lot of work, and what that work is depends upon the denomination to which a person belongs. Across the board, church attendance seems to be mandatory; I ran into one man who quoted Hebrews 10:26, the verse immediately after the famously misused “forsake not the assembling of one another,” to justify that Christians who don’t go to church are going to hell instead.

Well, that’ll fill the pews.

Another Kind of “Free”

On the other hand, when it comes to services and products that do cost money, the concept of “free” becomes well understood indeed. Regardless of what you do, it’s highly likely that you have been obliquely yet firmly requested to provide your service, skill, or product to “the church,” without charge,  because

1) You’re a Christian,

2) Christians are supposed to support “the church,” which generally means the particular group and its subsequent building that we are involved in,

3) A Christian’s “ministry” is wrapped around what leadership of the attended congregation says it is,

and

A Bible Verse That Isn’t in the Bible

4) The Bible tells us to “be good stewards of God’s money,” another one of those verses in the book of Obligations, often attributed to Luke 16: 10-13 (look it up, the term, “good stewards of God’s money,” does not appear), and generally applied to extract more money from church attendees for — not orphans, widows, the poor and downtrodden — but additional church programs.

If you’re a plumber, and the building you find yourself in on Sundays has a bathroom, you know where you’ll be on Saturday.

Time with our families and the people God has put into our lives is a much overlooked, unappreciated, ministry. Evening Waltz, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

Unskilled labor? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of work for you.

Even artists, normally considered the most useless of God’s creatures, have a purpose. At one church we attended, the Norwegian Artist created, for free, a logo, letterhead, and business cards for the pastor, who wanted a more professional, businesslike look.

Business? Or Ministry? They Can Co-Exist

Unfortunately, the businesslike attitude did not extend to offering to pay for professional services, although I’m sure that the pastor did not expect his dentist, his doctor, or his auto mechanic to work for free.

(Interestingly, years later the pastor contacted us, via his secretary, and wanted to know if the Norwegian could “do a few updates and changes.”

“Do you know that the Norwegian Artist hasn’t set foot inside of your church for three years?” I asked the hapless mediator. “It looks to me that the CEO is far more interested in the Norwegian’s work, as opposed to the Norwegian himself.”

We never heard from them again.)

I know. Churches are non-profit entities, and if they paid everyone for what they did, they’d never make it. But if all Christian business people are expected to provide free services to all Christian entities, as part of “the Lord’s work,” then we won’t make it either.

“The worker deserves his wages.” (1 Timothy 5: 18)

Giving, at Our Discretion

Every time a person provides, for free, services to an organization, it takes away from services he could provide, for free, to a widow, an orphan, or a person in financial need. As far as ministries go, I would much rather invest my time and skills in people, not programs.

And as far as ministries go, the local church congregation can lead the way by placing a value on the work done by its members, and severely limiting the amount it asks its people to do for free. Church members have families, jobs, household chores, and lives — all of which they regularly subvert when the pastor, or the elder, or the improvement committee, calls upon them to do “the Lord’s work,” as if the lives they are already living do not represent that work.

Salvation is free: a beauteous gift bountifully bestowed on humanity by a generous and loving God.

As recipients of this gift, let us be known, as well, for our bounteous generosity — not our parsimonious cheapness.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity where I seek, through essays, to distinguish between Christianity, and our culture’s interpretation of it. The latter is a substitute for the real thing — a form of idolatry, actually — and it is part of our journey to find the real Christ, the real message, the real road to God.

This is an individual journey, my friend, taken with Jesus leading the way, and while we can learn from others — sermons, books, teachers, even essays like this — we ultimately learn, one on one, at Jesus’ feet.

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  • http://thiswomanwrites.areavoices.com/ Carolyn Henderson

    Hi, Mary — Catholic, Protestant, Reformed — none of it matters. It’s only Christ, and one on one He loves us and meets us. The rest is all man made ribbons and trappings, and when they become too important to us, we lose sight of the only thing, the only Person, that matters: Christ.

    May you walk companionably with Him, your arm in His, communing and loving one another. That’s what He created us to do. Sometimes I think of Adam and Eve in the garden, before the Fall, and wonder, “What was it like? . . . walking with God in the garden, talking gently over the events of the day?” And that’s what we long for, strive for, hope for here.

    May your walk and life with Him be blessed. — Carolyn

  • http://pilgrimspraise.blogspot.com/2011/03/bridegroom_23.html Mary Bongiorno

    well,thank You,I trust the word of God as fully alive,when life becomes anything not in His word I will accept it. No big details except I do not believe that any being out body from some other church can attack me and tell me that Christ does not exist just because I am not and have never been catholic. That is when I took it all to God gave it to Him, and His Orthodox priest exorcised me but this catholic thing keeps pretending to have some reason to curse God. Yes, I am upset. Blessings Mary Christ himself converted me inwardly over 50 yrs. ago and with nothing changes. Love Mary

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