Further to my comments a few weeks ago on Donald Miller's book Searching for God Knows What: Bearded Women, Alien Philosophers, Lovesick Teens, and the Gospel of Jesus I have just read a chapter in the book which I thought was spot on - it was about morality and how the church has often prioritized morality and living by a set of rules over an encounter with the living faith which comes from knowing Jesus Christ.
Miller phrases things beautifully and I am not going to quote large chunks of his prose but commend the book again, despite the shortfalls i mentioned before. One of the things that really struck me was the way he pointed out that the writings of Paul and the early Church don't give the idea that the purpose of the Gospel is to condemn the lifestyles of those outside the church, but to call those of us who are followers of Jesus to live lives which reflect the values of the kingdom of God.
Those of us who are Christians are called to live by higher standards, of faithfulness, honesty, integrity, purity, not in order to make those outside Christian faith feel bad, but because we are being transformed by our faith into the people we are called to be.
My own experience of being a follower of Jesus is that I want to live a life that is, as St Paul says, 'worthy of the calling to which you have been called' not because it makes me feel better than others, or to show a smug 'holier than thou' attitude, but because it is the way I was made to live, and those standards are not confining, but liberating. My concern to be sexually faithfully, generous, just, loving, gracious, forgiving, etc comes from knowing that when these things are integrated into my life then I am living as Christ intended and from that I gain fullness of life.
I also realise just how difficult these standards are, and I thank God that it is only through his grace, his Spirit, his love and his strength that these good things are possible and that he helps me through all of this.
It is only with this attitude that i can hope that my 'light will shine before people that they may see these good works and glorify the Father who is in heaven'.