One of the biggest turn-offs to the Christian faith is that by many (most) non-believers, we are seen as judgmental and self-righteous – and I think there’s a lot of truth to that; I have certainly been guilty often of this charge. One of the teachings of Christianity, particularly in reformed theology, which has helped me to come down off my pedestal is to remember that the indicative comes before the imperative – I will explain.
In basic terms, an indicative is a stated truth and an imperative is a call to action; in our lives and in many different faiths, the command comes before the truth. For example, if you do your job, you will be paid, or if you obey, you will be rewarded. In one of the many ways that Christian teaching can seem counter intuitive, the Bible turns this around; we (Christians) are granted eternal life and given God’s righteousness as a free gift from Him. We are made holy because God declares us holy and for no other reason. Along with this status, our sins are forgiven and the Holy Spirit lives in us. This is where the imperative comes in – because of the vastness of these gifts we are naturally grateful and desire to serve God. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we are transformed into servants of our fellow human beings and not judges of them. Focusing on the scale of these gifts – given to me (of all people) – by the Creator of the Universe, helps me to remember to revere God and to stay humble.
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