Recently I have been bombarded by all sorts of people with legalistic agendas. To be fair most of what I have seen or heard in recent days hasn’t been aimed at me directly. However, some of you are making it difficult for me to share Jesus with my other friends because they think that you represent Him. They don’t know that your legalism is a vice and a sickness that actually keeps you from Him. I’m intentionally avoiding the particulars and get to the heart of the issue which is demanding more of others than God does.
1. Its not about YOU (or ME), its about US.
Sometimes you ask me to do things or put away things that aren’t prohibited in Scripture. Some of these things are great ways to connect with others and are really morally neutral. Many of these things Jesus did himself. But you get this idea in your head that if I do things differently than you that I must not know Jesus (or at least that I am not right with Him). However, on many of these issues, your the one who is changing His Word to make it say what it doesn’t say.
2. I’ll Gladly sacrifice ME for the sake of US, but please don’t ask me to do it for YOU.
What I mean is this. I don’t want to be a stumbling block to you. I don’t want to cause you to do anything against your conscience. I will gladly not do some things that might offend you so that we can hang out. But when you go around saying that everyone must think the same way that you do on an issue (and your thoughts don’t exactly line up with scripture), then you are asking me to be conformed to your image, not Christ’s. Again I love you and will lay down my freedom for you, but I will not subscribe to your extra biblical ideas.
3. Don’t forget that HE loves THEM
Somehow I think that in the process you have forgotten that God loves people. Don’t get me wrong on this. Doctrine is important. But perhaps the biggest truth we can know about God is that He loves people. Some of you are good at communicating your cultural rules as a standard of holiness but you have forgotten to mention that God loves people. Please let me remind you. He says it plainly in His Word. Just read it.
John 3:16-17, Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:4-9, Ephesians 5:1-2, 1st John 4:10-16
I really am hoping the best for you. Truth be told, I fight legalism too. Its easy for us to come up with extra rules (especially if we don’t struggle with the new rules). We can feel confident that we haven’t broken the rules we’ve added. The problem is that our rules aren’t always God’s rules and we need to know the difference.