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.


Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I have seen in my own extended family, a legalistic view of God. They don't really know what the WORD says, but they think they KNOW, if that makes sense. This has lead them to go away from a relationship with the Lord.

The Pharisee's had added hundreds of rules to the law - no one could possibly keep them all. Jesus was angry about that knowing that even these 'religious leaders' didn't keep the laws.

He wants us to walk in freedom and true grace.

Good words and such an important message Brenda.


Echoes From the Hill said...

Wow! This explanation of the legalistic view of God, made so much sense to me. That is how my grandparents viewed religion. My father got out of the house right after he graduated from high school. He turned away from religion and refused to go to church for decades.

I remember going to visit these grandparents for a couple of weeks each summer, and hearing that wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts was a sin. Playing cards was a sin. Putting a coin in a gumball machine, that had little trinkets mixed in with the gumballs, was gamboling, and sinful.

As a very young child, I viewed God as someone to fear and not dare offend. Fortunately, my mother took my brother and me to a different church that didn't make religion so negative.

I am a Christian, but it took a different style of religion to make me know that God is a God of love.


Vee said...

You have perfectly described how I feel about being followed by the police...not that it happens all that often! I remember Dr. Dobson doing a series on parenting where studies had shown that the best homes were balanced and loving ones, the next best were the permissive ones, and the worst were the legalistic homes. I sure know a lot of folks who were raised in those kinds of homes and, for the most part, they are not in fellowship or they have become legalistic themselves. Hope that some cooling came your way!

Anita said...

This is an excellent post, Brenda. I enjoyed reading it and agree with it, all the way.
I was raised in a legalistic home and raised my children in the same way. Now, I'm older and wiser!!! :-) My relationship with Christ is far more important than being bound by rules that only lead to negativity. Jesus love is warm and bright and happy and full of grace1. I've tried to explain this to my children and grandchildren.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult for me because I tend just from a personality point of view more towards legalism...I really struggle when I meet up with the sloppy grace folks who actually believe that God made sin just so they could enjoy their lives to the fullest....yes I have had them try to explain how abortion is a GIFT from God. I know I tend towards being off the rails on the law side of things , but sometimes it feels my brain is a ping pong table.!!I try to always keep my mouth shut and go over it in my poor 54ish brain and give it a run through my heart.!!! I am raising teen girls at this point in my life and it is a struggle for me to explain there really is right and wrong and Gods grace all at once, but do I ever get it right I do not know.Sometimes they can't understand why we should strive to dress modestly and yet I am not going to confront my unwed pregnant neice. Must be teens maybe understand right and wrong easier until they actually have done something more major throwing them at Gods feet for grace?? God knows I have been there often enough.

Anonymous said...

Sadly I too know of families that loved the Lord but were very legalistic. One family in particular. They used to live close to us, but since have moved. The children got into everything the church would not approve of. Only one of their many children follow the Lord now. Even the father in depression over it all, turned away from the church for a while then back. I have though had neighbors of theirs speak of all of this with such tones of superiority they almost seemed gleeful that this legalism did not work. How they could not realize the seriousness of it all was beyond me. To destroy a family and to break the bond with God is so humbly sad. I am naturally still praying for the family and try to stay in touch with them. The parents meant right but it turned out wrong. I am glad you set the record straight on this subject bringing out this issue. Thank you Brenda. Sarah

Terra said...

Jesus came to set us free from the hundreds of laws the Pharisees and others followed, and they demanded others follow those same detailed rules. That is why they insisted Jesus should not heal the sick on the Sabbath. Thank you Jesus for the new path you show us.
Oh, and glad you are not in the slammer!

Anonymous said...

This has really blessed me today, thank you.....