We Christians love to tell people “No.” Whether it’s sex, body piercings, Harry Potter books, or the occasional, appropriate Family Guy reference.
And let’s be honest. Saying “No,” feels good! It makes you feel in charge. I mean look at the Genie in Aladdin. First thing he did when he as free? Looked Aladdin in the eye and said, “NO!” Why? Because he could!
Better yet, saying “No” makes you feel better than the person you are no-ing. After all, you already know it’s a no-no, and you in your enlightened state get to let them know it’s a no-no, too, not only so they won’t do the no-no, but so they can know that you know what a no-no it is by how you’re not doing it.
Christians seem to say “no,” more than anybody else on the planet. It’s one of the many reasons the world hates us. We have a reputation for saying “no” to anything that can be deemed even remotely pleasurable.
But what about when it’s legitimate? What about when a man wants to leave his wife and the Bible says it’s wrong? What about discipline? What about correction? We can’t allow people do do whatever they want, right?
Yes, but when we only tell people “No,” we’re neglecting half of the truth.
Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come to give life, and life more abundant.” Not “life more restrictive.” Jesus didn’t come to give us more nos. He came to give us a big, fat “Yes.”
That’s really the difference between religion and Christianity. Religion says “no, because you’re a bad person.” Christianity says, “Yes, because Jesus is great.”
Giving people a list of “nos” doesn’t work. It’s nothing but restriction on top of restriction that makes people want to lash out and sin all the things. It’s like telling someone to stop eating junk food. What are they supposed to eat instead? Every “no” you ever use needs to have some kind of “yes” right after it. You need a “Do” for every “Don’t.”
Fortunately, the Bible is full of Yesses. Unfortunately, Christians can’t seem to remember them! I mean heck, look at the Ten Commandments! 80% of them start with “Thou shalt not…” That’s a lot of “nos.” However, there’s always an alternative that is either explicit or implied. Look how Jesus re-worded the Ten Commandments in Matthew 22:37-40:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength[and] Love your neighbor as yourself. All of the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Did you get that last part? EVERYTHING the Bible EVER said can be summed up in those four verses. And there wasn’t a single “no,” “don’t,” or “stop” in it.
Pretty much every time Jesus said, “Don’t do this,” he added a “Do this instead.” Matthew 5 and 6 have some excellent examples:
- DON’T pray all haughty and loudly like a hypocrite who only wants to be heard. INSTEAD pray quietly and alone to prove it’s about God and not about looking good.
- DON’T focus on worldly treasure. INSTEAD, focus on heavenly treasure.
- DON’T seek revenge. INSTEAD, seek love.
It’s common sense that every time something is forbidden, you need an alternative. The Bible isn’t a 1,000+-page manual on what not to do. It all boils down to one simple statement: “The world says to do this, but I have something better for you. Follow me and I’ll show you exactly what I mean.”
What “nos” in your life could use a little “yes”?