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Those Who Would Condemn A Bundle Of Sticks

John Collins02/02/2013Throughout time, the languages we speak evolve and transform.  Many words spoken in the old days no longer have the same meaning as words spoken in today's world, and words with their meanings spoken in one language may have varying impact on people from other nationalities and cultures.

As humans, we are impacted by the shock value of hearing offensive words or phrases.  Even if the speaker comes from another nation, and we are aware that there may be language barriers, sometimes the shock of hearing these phrases catches us off-guard and raises our barriers.

As Christians, this often poses a problem.  Having been taught since birth that these offensive words should not be used in our vocabulary, we sometimes avoid and even condemn people who use them.  While avoiding what we consider to be sin by this offensive language, we often dig ourselves deeper into the sin of "pride."  

Jesus was not this way.  He was accused of sitting with the publicans and sinners, but as our Example, Jesus taught us that we are to love one another and lift each other up.  Obviously, Jesus was not instructing us to partake in their sin, but Jesus was not afraid to mingle with sinners offer them salvation as many Christians are today.

The other problem that Christians face is adaptation.  As the culture around us changes, many of us are scared to accept the change for fear of unknowingly "sinning."  Why?  Because we have been falsely taught for years that "sin" is superficial.  When asking a "holiness" woman if another woman lives a good Christian life, you might often hear that the person in question has always worn a long skirt and has never cut her hair.  Or you might ask a Catholic, and find that the person devoutly enters into the confessional.  Or more convenient, the "drive-by-confessionals" that are springing up.  

Paul taught us that our walk with Christ was an inward change.  While "holiness" women in one nation see their covering of all flesh as "holy," they would really struggle as a Christian in the Amazon jungles.  The intense heat would likely change their view of "holiness."  The same could be said of the Arctic regions.  Recently speaking to a Christian woman who had been taught a works-righteous, outward-appearance way of "holiness," she told me that she could not be a "Christian," because she would freeze without pants under her skirt.  Unwilling to die, she gave up her "Christianity," thinking that the "gospel" was outward appearance.  Why?  This was the "message" that her cult pastor was spreading to the Arctics.  

As an example to our perception of language as it relates to "shock value," let's read a a verse from Scripture:

NOTE:  This will be offensive to some, but remember, this is in the same leather-bound bible that you read from.

"She lusted after their genitals as large as those of donkeys, and their seminal emission was as strong as that of stallions." - Ezekiel 23:20

Shocked?  So am I!  

All through the Bible are verses that we consider to be crude, and many pastors avoid them.  Those of you who do not know this are not studying the Word, and those of you who avoid these scriptures are denying the Word.  How are you denying it?  By letting your culture negatively impact your decisions.

The same can be done with language.  Over time, as cultures change, words that we consider to be offensive become integrated into language.  Also words that we do not consider to be offensive become slang words of profanity.  

If I were to call you a "retard," today, it would offend you.  The word actually was not an offensive word at its roots, though, it simply meant "slow."  In fact, this word is used in music today, because the great composers used it in their works.

At the same time, were I to call you a "bundle of sticks," it would not offend you.  While I am calling you a "bundle of sticks," I am actually using a word that would be condemned by most "holiness" people today.  Those who attend movies might have heard it in "Lord of the Rings."

If I were to call you a "faggot," you would be greatly offended.  Yet, this word "faggot" was commonly and openly used to describe a "bundle of sticks!"

The Bible speaks against cursing, and "curse words" are forbidden in most Christian homes.  Yet, this word "curse" itself has also changed over time.  When the Bible speaks against cursing, it is speaking about the words of ill-will towards another.  While a works-righteous Christian condemns a good, moral man who uses offensive language, and tells him that he is "going to hell" if the man does not "clean up" his language, he has done greater sin by "cursing," the actual meaning of the bible's instruction.

As Christians, we need to be reminded that Christ did not come to change our dress code.  God changed the language and set up barriers at the tower of Babel, but Christ did not come to change our speech.  Christ came as the Messiah to show us that the laws we lived by had been rendered useless.  The people put their faith in the law, thinking that by works-righteous faith through "abiding by the rules" of the law, they would gain salvation.  All the while, they were breaking the very reason the law was given: to love one another as themselves.

As Christians, we should ask ourselves:  Do we condemn or look down upon people for their superficial ways of life?  Do we push good, loving people away from us because they do not adhere to our culture?  Have we forgotten the reason Christ came?  Are we denying the power of the Cross?

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