I'm posting this here because a) I'm an ordained minister and b) it has stuff to do about how we are all ministers. Would anyone be willing to contribute some thoughts? -------------- Last night, there was a mini-debate about movies while we were enjoying supper at Bennigan's. There was a group of students who wanted to go see V for Vendetta. I knew what the themes in that movie were as well as knowing that there were over 30 bad words (a good number were definitely R-material) as well as several shots of naked women. (Thatnks, screenit.com). I casually (or some might say purposefully) began switching the tide to having everyone see Benchwarmers which, although it was an Adam Sandler movie, was fairly clean. Everyone saw that movie, and most of them had a good time. This debate led to a bigger theme in my head relating to a number of themes including legalism, being a Pharisee, and freedom in Christ. We talk about freedom in Christ a lot. There are many who think that because of their salvation they are "free" to do whatever they want. We've had a youth minister here who held onto that idea. The word in Galatians 5:1 for freedom is eleutheria, which means "liberty to do or to omit things having no relationship to salvation." It is saying that we are free from a sacrificial system, but is it saying that we can do what we want whenever we want? I don't think so for two main reasons. First, the NT is filled with many, many commands about what to do and what not to do. If we were free to do whatever we wanted, then those commands would be moot or, worse, we would have a terrible contradiction in God's word. Second, I think that perhaps we have a much better understanding about what we are saved to than what we are saved from. We like the idea of heaven and that we get to have a relationship with God. But we may not think about how our regeneration has set us free from the law of sin and death. We don't have to do all those things that put a damper on our life or on others' lives. The second point, besides freedom, is something that I've been thinking abuot for the last three weeks or so. In II Corinthians, Paul calls us an ambassador for Christ, involved in the ministry of reconciliation. Everyone of us who is saved. Not just those who are ordained or super-spiritual. Everyone. Everyone who sat around that table last night is a minister. There are several things that I stopped doing once I became a minister, as if ordaining me by a local church made me more holy than it did seconds before. That's just silly. God's standards didn't change. In fact, all of the characteristiscs of a deacon or a pastor are characteristics that everyone of us are supposed to have. So what does this mean for us? I'll tell you what it means for me. There are people watching every step I make, just as there are people watching every step that you make. They're waiting to see who you really are and if this salvation thing is real in your life. I know that if I go and watch an R-rated movie, then it justifies it for someone else. Even though I know that if I were to see one, the words honestly wouldn't bother me and that I know that whenever there is a scene with nakedness on it I close my eyes, I can't say that others would do the same thing. There's also this idea of paying to watch sin that Christ had to die for. I know that if I drink alcohol, then it justifies drinking for someone else. I know that drinking in small quantities is not prohibited by the Bible, so long as intoxication does not occur. Even though I may have the fortitude to drink one and not get drunk, I know that way too many people do not have that self-control. So as I encourage others to stay away, I stay away myself. I know that I could go to a club with my wife and we would not drink and dance only with each other. However, that would justify clubbing for someone else. I know what goes on in guys' minds when they dance that way with someone who is not their wife - I've been there. So as I encourage others to not go to a club, I don't go myself. I made it up in my mind a long time ago that I wouldn't go on a date with a non-Christian. Not one. Could I have done it and not sinned? Maybe. But I know where that road leads, just as I have seen where it leads for so many people. And I can honestly say that I never went on a date with a non-Christian, and I'm so much better for that. So I entreat everyone I see to not get involved with non-Christians. Is this legalism? I don't think so. These are things that I choose not to do because I'm all about the law, but all about love. I've been a victim of all of these things, and I know that I've experienced the forgiveness of Christ, but I carry those memories with me, and will carry them until I die. God hasn't called just me and my other ordained minister-people to a higher standard; he's called us all to such a standard. Each one of us has to take a stand - draw a line in the sand - and say that certain things are or are not okay. We live in a community of faith. Luther Crenshaw is over eighty years old, and he is my brother in Christ. Catherine Caple is 12 and she is my sister in Christ. I have a responsibility to both of these, as I do everyone else who claims the name of Christ. You have the same responsibility. We are Christ's ambassadors - or Christ's representatives - here on earth. And we haven't been saved for our benefit alone - we've been saved for the world's. I think if we could grasp that, a lot of our decisions would be made easier. But, let's face it. It's fun to laugh at comedy, no matter if it's R or not, and we could miss some good entertainment if we cut out R-rated movies. I know people like to unwind with a beer after work, and they would miss that if they were to not have that part of their life. I know people who really enjoy clubbing, and they would miss some social interaction if they removed that from their life. However, from an eternal perspective, it's much more important to live a life above reproach, a life that points people (Christians or not) to Jesus Christ and that freedom that can be found in him. I'm not referring to spending time with non-Christians - just as long as we're very specific for the reasons we're doing that. If we're not actively trying to point them to Christ, then I have serious problems with that as well (as can be seen above.) Now there are going to be those who disagree with me. And that's fine. A great number of Christians do so by way of their actions. But I would ask that they back up their assertions with Scripture. And I ask that all of you, whether you are students or adults, hold me accountable in this area, because you can be assured that I will ask pointed questions to you as well. Let's move beyond a Christianity that looks and feels like everyone else, and towards a Christianity that is refreshin, life-changing, and has the power to reconcile the world to Christ.