October 4 Reflections

Listening to the person he had the whole set of rules for what it meant to be believer. He was so certain that if you really wanted to please God you must act in certain ways that he had defined. For instance you needed to be part of a certain political party and have the “right” views on gun control, capital punishment, welfare, opposing the legalization of marijuana, the racism question, home schooling, rock concerts which beverages you can drink , and whether it is appropriate to go to the casino or not.

The person had the rule that you must give 10 % of your income to the local church and perhaps give other sums to Christian organizations. He believed that you must set aside 30 minutes every day to read the Bible and pray if you were a true believer. Regularly he had to tell someone about his faith and invite them to his church which you attended every time the doors were open.  If you follow these rules you can be confident that your Christian life is what God wants. If you happen to disagree with the “true believer” and publicly voice your disagreement, your spirituality is called into question and it is doubtful that you are saved. You will be ostracized and look down upon because you do not dance to the tune of Mr. True Believer.

I always get caught wondering about Mr. True Believer if he loves Jesus. If he at any point in his life fell in love with Jesus. I don’t think it is judgmental on my part it just feels like something really important is missing; that his righteous rules are more important than to be in love with Jesus. Paul faced the same issue in Philippi. Visiting teachers from the home church in Jerusalem had come and told the believers in Philippi to shape and follow all the Old Testament laws and observe all the Jewish holidays.  If you Gentiles want to fully please God, you must become like us. Paul literally went to war with these true believers calling them “dogs” “evil doers” and mutilators of the flesh. He declared it is about Jesus not these rules. It is about a personal relationship with him, not following true believer rules.

Bottom line is to not let others pressure you into their spiritual lifestyle and miss out on the life Jesus wants to give you. The goal is to know Christ and be led by him; not to follow a legalistic code, but a living Christ. You see the legalistic code is rubbish and you won’t be in love with Christ.  We are going to think about that on Sunday as we look together at Philippians 3:1-10.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn