Tuesday, November 18, 2008

allegiance, not behavior

People make the mistake of thinking that it’s our actions that send us to Hell (or, conversely, to Heaven).

But our actions are only indicative of the deeper, truer, person that we are. Our actions are only servants to us – they are the things we do because of the people we are.

The real issue regarding salvation is not our actions/behaviors, but our allegiance.

Christianity spirituality is about a changing of allegiance. In its most basic sense, it is a changing of allegiance from ourselves to Christ Jesus; in more dramatic scenarios it is a changing of allegiance from some religion, or some servitude, or some dark master to Jesus Christ.

But we find it hard to remember this.

So, when someone asks me: are you saying that God is going to send my friend to Hell for being a homosexual?

I am more than a little hesitant to answer yes.

1. because I don’t think Heaven and Hell are “real” issues so much as scapegoat rhetoric utilized to either:
a. make religious people look bigoted, or
b. make non-religious people look wicked
2. because Heaven and Hell are not determined – as far as I can tell in scripture – solely on our score as good people

Heaven is about allegiance far more than it is about behavior.

However, behavior flows from allegiance; which is why – if forced – I would have to say that practicing homosexuals are not (in all likelihood) Christians.

Because Christians are those who have given their allegiance to Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and He leaves no room for ambiguity on the topic of sexual sin.

Some might think this is harsh, but I’m not sure why…honestly, if loving and following Jesus Christ is the most important thing to you in the world than you should be able to give up whatever else you need to surrender in order to serve Jesus better.

But if you don’t want to serve Jesus, then who cares what you do with your sexuality so long as it is within the law?

Anyway, I make the point of saying all this because people often respond with genuine heartbreak when they hear how narrow the standards are for following Jesus…and it’s true, the Way of Jesus Christ is wonderfully and fantastically difficult to follow, but our primary concern should not be managing our behavior.

Our primary concern should be Love for, and Oneness with, God.

If we are driven into the center of Christ, then our behavior will increasingly conform to the standards of Scripture and no sin will be any barrier against our entry into Heaven.

If, however, we are concerned with issues and sins and particulars more than we are concerned with giving our whole selves to God, than anything can prove to be an insurmountable barrier that separates us from Christ.

Because – again – the issue is not sin, but allegiance.

Which is why I try very hard not to monitor or police non-Christians on their conduct (unless, of course, it is something so heinous or dehumanizing as to warrant a just response). Christians, in the end, should only be ‘sharpening the iron’ - that is challenging one another on their sinful behavior – of other Christians.

So – again – if allegiance is the thing we focus on, then we can have confidence that all the other, less significant battles, will get worked out through the process of discipleship;

But if any one issue, or sin – like homosexuality, or financial generosity, or biblical credibility, etc – is what we focus on then we will spend the rest of our lives wrestling with issue after issue after issue.

And we will never find peace
Or wholeness
With God.


  1. Great post. This made me think of what, I think, Dallas Willard, calls the doctrine of sin management. If we sit around thinking about the sins, worrying about whether or not we'll overcome them - we forget about the one that did.