Sunday, July 21, 2013
Sunday Afternoon Tea
Early this past week, I was driving on one of the main streets close to campus when I happened to look in the rear view mirror and realized a city policeman was directly behind me. Yikes!
Now, up to that moment I had been watching carefully my speed and the laws of the land (for this section of town is notorious for the city's finest to hide in wait for speeders) while still enjoying the sights of periwinkle houses and English gardens on lawns.
Suddenly I found myself second guessing every move and wondering if my license plates were up to date! No longer was the drive at all pleasant, all I could think about was staying out of trouble with the law... and I'm a normal law abiding middle aged grandmother. :)
Fortunately, Mr. Policeman turned on the road leading to the high school and I could once again breath easily. Why did he have such an affect on me? (Besides the fact a campus policeman pulled me over last winter for not putting my turn signal on when I didn't know it was even necessary.) It was simply the fact that he had the power to find me doing something wrong, even if I had no clue at the moment what it could be.
Do you know what immediately came to my mind after the policeman went a different direction? I was thinking this was how some of my friends in the past have viewed their relationship with God... as a stern galactic policeman just waiting to find them doing something wrong.
A few friends and family members know what I think of legalism after witnessing how it affected someone I love and turned them away from the Lord for much of their life. Even after accepting Christ as their Savior, they never could truly understand His love and grace.
Of course, there is such a thing as cheap grace but what is the difference between that and legalism? They are at two different extremes of Christianity, neither a healthy view of our Lord.
For instance, we have a close relative who lives an alternative lifestyle and we do show him grace by welcoming him into our home and honestly caring for him. But he knows we do not believe his lifestyle is of God, even though he attends an extremely liberal church which professes otherwise.
Grace loves... cheap grace lies. Grace accepts him as a welcome part of the family while cheap grace tells him that the Bible really doesn't mean what is written there.
Long ago, I read a fascinating article that stayed with me throughout our homeschooling years. The writer had been a pioneer in the homeschooling movement and had noticed a disturbing trend in that first generation of homeschool graduates.
There were far more than he expected leaving the Faith of their parents.
So he began a serious study of the kids who were leaving the faith and making decisions regarding their life which led them into drinking, drugs, and promiscuity. While there were those whose parents had done everything humanly right and they still "went prodigal", he did begin to notice a trend in two different extremes that affected many of the young homeschool graduates.
It seemed most of these young people were either raised in extremely legalistic homes full of rules and regulations and little enjoyment... or they were raised in homes with absolutely no boundaries whatsoever and where "cheap grace" abounded.
He found those homeschooling graduates who went on to follow the faith of their parents and live with good relationships with their families were young people from homes where there were definite boundaries given with a lot of love. Another aspect of these young people... they tended to be from homes where there was joy even in difficult circumstances.
Now none of these homes were perfect mind you. The homes of those children who kept the faith were often filled with as much of the hardships of life as those who did not. It was never a question of perfect parents... Adam and Eve had a perfect "Parent" and went prodigal!
You will probably laugh at me, at least those who have studied the Word and know such things... but for the longest time I could not figure out what Jesus had against the Pharisees. Other than trying to kill him and all of that. But it seemed they were the law abiding citizens of the land!
Then I heard a series of talks about the people of Jesus' time and found out the Pharisees were the poster children for legalism. Why? Because they expected everyone to follow rules and regulations that had been heaped up... in addition to the Word of God.
Oh, I get it now.
You see my friend, our Lord tells us His burden is light and that He helps us carry it through this world. What happens when man heaps on rules in addition to His Word... we do not have enough grace to carry what God never asked in the first place.
No one ever came to know the Lord personally through a set of stern rules. At the same time, the true boundaries given in His Word (with nothing added to them)... they surround us and protect us from the harm He knows walks right beside us in life.
That is the balance we are to walk in on this journey He has given. The only way to live in that balance is to set our eyes on Him and the Word daily.