Sunday, January 12, 2014
Christians Ought to Stop Crossing their Fingers
The practice of "crossing one's fingers" comes from ancient times, when people would do so in order to invoke God's blessing or "hope" things would turn out right, simply by wishing it would be so. Oddly, it's was, and still is, also used (by adults as well as children) to "cover" a bold-faced lie, while it's being told, as if the crossed fingers (like the Cross of Christ Jesus) would "cover" the act of continual sinning.
But many have forgotten, apparently, that Jesus actually called on us to REPENT, which means to STOP sinning, and to follow his example, working towards the goal of moral perfection, which he himself achieved. Relying on God's continual gifts of wisdom, guidance, and strength, we then are called to humbly confess our sins and seek forgiveness. Then, we are assured that we, too, are forgiven our sins and shortcomings.
Is the previous paragraph shocking to you? Is it something you've never heard before from your pastors and other Christian friends? It shouldn't be, but it probably is.
Modern Christianity, encrusted with nearly endless sources of speculation, philosophizing and interpretations, has buried this Truth so deeply that most Christians are shocked to hear it. Most Christians today (especially in the Protestant Tradition) are quick to recite from memory the "proof texts" from Paul of Tarsus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and modern-day evangelists that spell out a clever, but quite anti-Christian message that sets us up for an excuse for perpetual failure and a half-breed version of Jesus' Good and Beneficial Message (what we call the "Gospel.")
They teach that because a snake spoke to one of our original ancestors, and convinced them to sin, WE, therefore, cannot ever do anything but sin. And since we cannot do good, all we must do is believe that Jesus (who was God in disguise) was perfect (which he was) and say a magical prayer, and then we, too - by means of a "free gift" - are INSTANTLY perfect and will be guaranteed a place in Heaven with God forever and ever. Jesus' call for perfect behavior on our part, they say, was just as way to tease us - to show that it cannot be done.
This, of course, is all nonsense, and is contrary to every word Jesus spoke. And if Jesus' words truly do never pass away, they are important enough to believe, and to base our lives and our eternal salvation upon.
While Jesus calls for us to believe, that is only the BEGINNING of faith. He says we must also repent - with no crossing of fingers or hesitation - which means we feel regret for past sins and vow to actively stop sinning. We must then take up our own crosses, bear the yoke of obedience, and follow the example of and teachings Jesus - without hesitation.
We are called by Jesus to perform acts of Righteousness, to treat others like we would wish to be treated, to "go the extra mile" and not return evil for evil. We must obey God's commandments, must not be hypocrites in doing so, must not pray just to be seen by others, and not seek after earthly riches, but instead seek after Heavenly riches.
These are commands and duties we must perform, and when others stumble, we must forgive them, as a condition of our being forgiven by God when WE fall short of the duties we've taken on by agreeing to follow his anointed one, Jesus.
Perfect fulfillment of these goals is not going to happen overnight. To say we aren't stumbling means we're lying. But to claim we can claim perfection in some vague, spiritual sense - without any Good Works or effort on our part - gives us a false sense of security. It allows us to cross our fingers and pretend we have "made it" and have fulfilled all of our obligations.
Just as the complaining student wishes he or she didn't have to do homework, the teacher knows that by performing the task of doing the work, we become enriched and educated. So, too, God in His wisdom knows that by living according to the life and teachings of his servant, Jesus, we become enriched, more perfect, and more spiritually complete, as God wishes us to be, and knows we CAN be.