“Come sit with me, my child, I have something for you.” With a beaming grin, my Father reached into his pocket and took out a a shimmering cross. He gently he placed it over my heart. I watched it become part of me.
“You are mine,” he said in a reassuring voice that somehow gave me freedom instead of servitude. It instantly removed performance and insecurity weights that had been accumulating for decades. I can still hear them;
“Jesus doesn’t like it when you watch bad shows and we’ll tell you what they are. God is dissapointed in you when you laugh at things that we tell you are inappropriate. Always leave room for Jesus to walk or sit between you and that girl you like. Be careful little eyes what you see.” I got the message that I was a big disappointment to God.
“I did not send my Son to condemn you but to rescue you. It’s about love … love that allows you to be declared innocent even when you know you are guilty. It’s my gift to you, my son.” (John 3:17)
My Father showed me through His Word that he used to have a system that was based on law. He showed me how people failed time after time to live up to His holiness. He showed me some laws that seemed pretty silly to me and chuckled when he saw the puzzled look on my face. “Do you know anyone who could pass these tests?” He asked knowing that I did not. “It’s impossible unless you receive the Gift of Grace I give you.” (Eph. 2:8)
“This cross that I have burned on your heart is a reminder of my love for you. Get ready for people to try to add to it.” I asked what could they possibily add. A sad look took over His face and betrayed the hurt He felt.
“Some will work to add regulations. Circumsicions are not a big deal in your world now like they were after my son walked the earth. But, there will be different standards added. People will tell you that you have to act a certain way to be truly saved. Some will spiritualize it and tell you have to speak in tongues, others will tell you you can’t watch television or movies. Some won’t want you to dance or drink wine or eat meat. And all are convinced they speak for me.”
I nodded silently.
“My child, be about the majors. Love others. Please don’t ever reduce my love to a simple series of do’s and don’ts. When you become one who draws lines in the sand, you become judge and jury. Walk over lines to love.”
“Sit with me for awhile …”
Take the Pharisee-Legalist quiz.
1)Do you act as if you essentially have a monopoly on God’s word, the knowledge of God’s will, sound doctrine, and truth? (“God told me that…”)
2) Are you often a “hyper-seperationists” in your attitude toward others? (Good Christians and bad Christians.)
3) Do you smugly denounce and ridicule believers who do not believe or behave exactly as you do? (John 9:34).
4) Do you have an outward show of “humility” and “consecration” while inwardly you are proud and self-righteous?
5) Do you want the praise of men; are you looking for honor as “the spiritual one” in the group?
6) Do you present your man-made traditions or codes as God’s irrefutable eternal laws?
7) Do you idolize certain leaders of your group?
8) Do you fail to “practice what you preach?” (one standard for church things and another for “real life.”)
9) Do you keep others from having or seeking true godliness by judging them inferior and making them feel inferior?
10) Do you act as if you are “favored” by God more than anyone else?”
(adapted from http://www.biblebelievers.com/ – an interesting variety of readings across the spectrum)
One thing is sure about legalists … they tend not to attract people with the love of Jesus. Or, if they do attract people to their systems, it is not long before they become weighed down and discouraged.