How To Tell If Values Are Christian: A quick guide to get started

Customary social and political values are not  made Christian values simply by claiming that they are.  It doesn’t matter how traditional or newly minted they are.  Each has to be judged by the commandments to love God, love neighbor, love self, and love each other as Jesus loves us.  Everything in scripture and all religious teachings hang on adherence to these commandments.

It wouldn’t be much of a hard thing to do if things would stay the way they should be, which by human standards is usually the way things used to be. The problem is, things are never the way they used to be and we cannot go back.  The way things are today will pass quickly into a future of conditions and relationships unknown.  Futurists love to take a stab at what they will be, but are seldom right.  It means everything always stands in judgement by the commandments of love.

They are commandments Christians are supposed to obey, but no one is compelled to do so, and what obedience looks like is often not clear.

Loving one’s self is not narcissistic self love, but the comforting consolation of knowing that one is deeply beloved of God.  The parable of the good Samaritan reveals the neighbor can be a stranger, a person one does not like, someone not to be trusted.  To love that neighbor is not only to be a help in need, but to willingly receive help from the one you do not trust.  And don’t forget the innkeeper who took on the burden and cost of caring for an injured man without any guarantee he would be paid as promised.  

Loving others as Jesus loves us raises the question: how does Jesus love us?  It can be answered only by examining the gospel records for what Jesus said and did.  Guessing doesn’t count.  Sentimental platitudes don’t count.  Only by examining the gospel records can the question be answered in ways we are to apply own in our own daily lives. 

It’s with that kind of unflinching examination that we can judge our own social values and the values that others proclaim as being Christian.  Do my values, or theirs, honor God’s holy name?  Do my values, or theirs, show respect for who I am as a child of God? Do they show respect for the dignity of every human being?  Do they contribute to the healing, reconciling work of Christ?

The world was never the way it was.  Conditions are always changing, and in our age it seems they are changing much too fast.  It means that whatever comfort we have that our social and political  values are Christ like, they must always be subject to challenge and examination.  There will always be new ways of walking in the way of love that will feel odd and uncomfortable at first.  It’s always thus, and always will be.

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