“Won’t you get struck by lightning for that?”
I have a non-churchgoing friend who likes to ask me difficult questions like “You can’t do that and be a good Christian, can you?” or “Isn’t that against your church rules?”
Like many others, she’s under the faulty impression that God’s approval, acceptance, and love is reserved exclusively for those who meet a lengthy and stringent criteria of laws, codes, and ordinances. I’ve fallen into that performance-based faith trap before, and it’s a miserable place to be.
photo by mtsofan
That’s not to say God doesn’t have standards He wants us to live by. Unfortunately, organizations, administrations, and people in general like to add a lot of extra, unnecessary “stuff” to His standard. I was reminded this morning of just how simple God has made it for us.
“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. “ Romans 13:8-9
The great majority of religious regulations are things that keep people away from church and away from God, things that cause God’s people to suffer faith-hindering guilt and condemnation.
- Blindly accepted traditions made into rungs on the ladder to salvation (or damnation).
- Church/Christian cultural trends mistakenly attributed to God’s character.
- Personal preferences elevated to a criterion for holiness.
It’s time we, as believers, start asking ourselves the kind of questions my friend tosses at me. Especially when we catch ourselves having those stiff-necked, knee-jerk, judgmental reactions to something (or someone) outside our personal church comfort zone. Are our rules helping, or hurting, God’s cause?