If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked this question here in Ometepec, I would be a rich woman! Does your religion allow you to wear high heels? Can you dance? Can you listen to non-Christian music? The list goes on. But the latest...Does your religion allow you to hunt deer? This was posed to Ben just yesterday by a boy on his youth team! The great thing about it is that Ben had the chance to share the Gospel with a whole group of boys from La Boluda.
Every time I'm asked this question, I first want to shout out: "It's not my RELIGION: It's a RELATIONSHIP with a Person." But I'm a little more graceful in my approach (at least I hope so, but who knows what I'm saying in Spanish!!)
The two verses that always come to mind are: 1) Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free"; and 2) John 10:10, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Christ came to set us free, free from the regulations of the law and from a salvation by works. He came to give us abundant life, a joy-filled life, new life! He came to bring us into a personal relationship with Himself! I used to get somewhat offended by these questions, thinking to myself "what? Do you think that Christians are just boring people?" And truthfully I've had to ask myself: "Are we?" Do people see the church as a stuffy, boring group of people who are living by a list of rules and regulations, who are quick to judge the choices of others? And more importantly, is that how people see ME? Am I living "in the world, but not of the world?" And what exactly does that mean and how do we do that? And at the same time, what does Paul mean that "everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial"? (1 Cor. 10:23) We are free, yet we are not to see our own good. "Not everything is constructive." Being here in Ometepec (a strong Catholic culture with deep beliefs in the "spirits"), living amongst mostly non-believers or young believers, and away from what some call the "Christian bubble" of Charlotte has really challenged me to think about what these verses mean. Are there things I do, and feel I have the "right" to do them because Christ has set me free, but they are a stumbling block to others here in this culture? Thankful for God's grace, because I have much to learn! These questions, though--"does your religion allow you to..." are welcomed now, because they always allow for an opportunity to talk about the Lord and the joy and freedom that comes through a relationship with Him!