"I believe that the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man's mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God."
-Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz)
There is nothing more unattractive to me, than a Christian rooted in legalism. And by unattractive, I'm not referring to outward appearance...I'm talking about the fact that my soul literally finds those kinds of people so off-putting that everything inside of me just wants to run away from them the moment they open their mouths.
Please forgive me, if I've already talked about this, but...I just can't seem to shake the feeling that this movement of legalistic Christianity is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it seems to be growing. And that's not great.
I looked up the definition of legalism because I'm cliche like that, and apparently it means (well according to dictionary.com, which is super reliable, guys...) an "excessive adherence to law or formula, or dependence on moral law, rather than on personal religious faith". I'm not sure why, but the latter half of the definition really struck a chord in me, which is why I felt the need to blog about this topic once again. I know...how fun for you readers.
BUT SERIOUSLY. Dependence on moral law, rather than on personal religious faith? Really? How does that sound right to anyone? This may be one of the reasons why I get so incensed by legalistic Christians. Have you not read the Bible? Did you not read about Jesus coming to abolish the old law? Did you not read about His fantastically bold and cutting encounters with the Pharisees? Did you not read how Jesus is looking for an intimate, love-filled relationship with us? I mean...goodness gracious. How, what? I don't understand.
There is something fundamentally wrong, when we as a people, care more about what a person is wearing, or whether or not they are following the "rules", than caring about their personal relationship with God, and what He is doing in their lives.
I'm not a scholar or a cool theologian or any kind. I really don't have any "teachings" on which I can base this post on. It's just personal experience. BUT...to me, legalism is all about you. It's the dependence on ourselves, on what we can do. Not what God can do. Legalism doesn't set out to follow rules out of a genuine heart, but rather out of ritual and wanting to have achieve the "perfect Christian" reputation. There is no connection with God. Think about it. It's unpleasantly easy to "act" like the perfect Christian at church. But it's all just an act. And the only person getting hurt is you, because you're the one missing out on the beautiful intimacy a relationship with God can only provide.
The saddest and most frustrating part of all of this is that so many people who are spouting out legalistic philosophies, often times don't even realize it. I have been criticized for not wearing the "appropriate" church clothes, not watching or liking the right things, and even for wanting to get a tattoo, all by the same person, that while constantly chastising me, empthatically profused that they were not legalistic in the slightest.
It's just so incredibly frustrating! I know I have been coming across very harsh, but I want emphasize that I love these people. Truly I do. But oh my goodness gracious, if I could have the super power to slap some sense into people...well let's just say, I would have done so. Not that I have much sense myself, but I can at least see how being preoccupied with someone getting a tattoo rather than on their heart and what God has place in them, is a little nonsensical.
And as a result of legalistic Christianity, the already existing divide among churches and believers, is getting even wider. Which, as you know, is just splendid. Because why on earth, would we want to be a body of unified believers working together to do great things for God? How would that be helpful? I mean...it's not like the devil would be scared of that or anything. Nope. Not at all. We're much better off as a faith divided amongst itself. We will do great things like that. (okay, sarcastic rant is over. I promise).
However, let me not completely be a negative ned. Over this past semester, I have come to know amazing Christians. People who are genuinely seeking after God and a relationship with Him. People who are...unconventional. In the way we all should be. And that has truly been the most encouraging, amazing thing to be apart of.
Again, it's just frustrating. I mean, if surrendering to God means falling into ritual and habit, then what separates us from other religions? Actually, let me rephrase that...what makes Christianity a faith, rather than a religion?
If you take away the beauty that is God, the fact that He loves us enough to look at our disgusting selves and still want to have a relationship with Him, than what is left?....Honestly? Nothing.