Oct. 2, 2019

Legalism is Alive and Well on Planet Earth


“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

It’s bothered me for quite a while. I’ve denied it. I’ve ignored it. I’ve told myself all the reasons I should let it go. The reality is, my reality is, that I sort through feelings by processing thoughts. That’s how I seek God and find His answers. I’m honest before Him. Always have been. Always will be. It’s who I am and that’s how I let go. It’s not automatic for me. My peace is discovered through His fire of combat, conviction and integrity.

He allows all of us to ask any question. I’ve never been afraid to admit my curiosity or my confusion. He’s always faithful to provide His answers in His time and in His way.

I feel so uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable in the world that I live in and in the pew that I fill. Although I’m not perfect, my discomfort isn’t due to unconfessed sin. I over confess just as I overthink. Moderation is not my middle name when it comes to thinking, feeling, processing or praying.

As a young child growing up in a church, we were taught what other religions and denominations do wrong. We were taught why they are wrong and why our way of thinking is right. It was always a subtle message, intentional or not, that somehow we knew more. We captured the market on Divine revelation.

What makes me sad is I came up out of the judgement seat long enough to visit other churches; Christian churches. I didn’t simply listen to what denominational material taught me about everyone else’s misguided efforts of worship, I worshipped with them. I discovered 99% of what I was taught as a child about the other guy was incorrect. Or perhaps just one sided and outdated.

I discovered a few churches teach what other churches believe not as a way to condemn them, but as a way to understand them.  I found many churches that teach a course on world religions not as a way to bolster hate, but as a way to increase our ability to reach others.

I believed people when they told me I must have simply attended a strict church that was closed minded. I returned to my childhood denomination with a clean slate and no preconceived notions, but it started up again. We were told why infant baptism is wrong. We were told some churches teach morals but not scripture. Now, we’re offering a special class to learn what’s wrong with “progressive” Christianity.

I’m beginning to realize church is a lot like politics. We hear what we want to hear, and we believe what we want to believe. We seem to enjoy pointing the finger and airing our accusations whether they are based on fact or overzealous fiction. We claim we want unity within Christ’s church but what we really want is uniformity. We claim to value freedom of religion, but it’s a smoke screen. What we really want is for everyone to be like us, do like us, believe identically to us.

It appears many of us don’t trust the Holy Spirit to do His job. We somehow believe that if Jesus had waited to arrive on the scene during our lifetime, His disciples would be cookie cutter images of exactness. Nothing is further from the truth. We claim to believe in creation, but we seem to question the final product – one another.

Yes, I am as guilty as the rest. It’s a continual battle to not look at what everyone else is doing wrong. It’s a constant battle to not believe my wisdom is somehow broader, somehow deeper and somehow more on target than everyone else.  It’s a battle because I’ve been indoctrinated from a very young age not to question my leaders but to question everyone else’s.

Just when I feel so out of place, it hits me. I’m just like them. I’ve become the expert in my own mind that brainwashed me as a child into thinking I have all the answers. The correct ones. I wonder if we realize that we often make this beautiful, individual, intimate, personal relationship with Christ all about ourselves? I’m wondering if we understand that many cannot find Him because we aren’t pointing to Him. We’re flying the flag for our churches.

The meek may inherit the earth but those who speak the loudest want all of its privilege and power. Sadly, we believe we deserve it. Not because of who He is, but based on what we’ve done to earn it.