False fundamentals

Just a few more weeks left in our journey through Evolving in Monkey Town. Today’s excerpts come from Chapter 19, entitled “Adaptation":

It seems that a whole lot of people, both Christians and non-Christians, are under the impression that you can’t be a Christian and vote for a Democrat, you can’t be a Christian and believe in evolution, you can’t be a Christian and be gay, you can’t be a Christian and have questions about the Bible, you can’t be a Christian and be tolerant of other  religions, you can’t be a Christian and be a feminist, you can’t be a Christian and drink or smoke, you can’t be a Christian and read The New York Times, you can’t be a Christian and support gay rights, you can’t be a Christian and get depressed, you can’t be a Christian and doubt. 

I am convinced that what drives most people away from Christianity is not the cost of discipleship but rather the cost of false fundamentals. False fundamentals make it impossible for faith to adapt to change. The longer the list of requirements and contingencies and prerequisites, the more vulnerable faith becomes to shifting environments and the more likely it is to fade slowly into extinction. When the gospel gets all entangled with extras, dangerous ultimatums threaten to take it down with them. The yoke gets too heavy and we stumble beneath it…

...Once, a guy asked Jesus about his yoke, or teaching. He asked Jesus what he thought was the most important of all the Jewish laws. Jesus, who often responded to one question with another, chose this time to answer the man directly. He said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:37-40). 

Love. It’s that simple and that profound. It’s that easy and that hard. 

Taking the yoke of Jesus is not about signing a doctrinal statement or making an intellectual commitment to a set of propositions. It isn’t about being right or getting our facts straight. It is about loving God and loving other people. The yoke is hard because the teachings of Jesus are radical: enemy love, unconditional forgiveness, extreme generosity. The yoke is easy because it is accessible to all—the studied and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, the religious and the nonreligious. Whether we like it or not, love is available to all people everywhere to be interpreted differently, applied differently, screwed up differently, and manifested differently. Love is bigger than faith, and it’s bigger than works, for it inhabits and transcends both…

What false fundamentals have you wrestled with in your life?

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