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Posts Tagged ‘rules’

by Rocky Glenn

As I shared in You Are Not Alone, since my recovery from being a churchboy began, I have encountered countless others that are walking a similar path.  I’ve since learned this path has been given the term “deconstructing.”  I heard it said just a couple of days ago that deconstructing your faith has now become the fashionable or “in” thing to do.  Although I can look back over the past four to six years and say I have definitely been deconstructing my faith, in my four decades of life I have never been one to do something just because it’s considered fashionable, popular, cool, or the latest trend.  (That’s not because I refuse to follow the crowd, part of being a churchboy is being so opposite and opposed to popular culture that you aren’t accepted as part of that crowd!!)

On several occasions in the gospels, Jesus tells us that if one seeks to save or keep his life he will lose it but if he loses his life he shall save it.  Although I did not realize it at the time this journey began, losing my life is exactly what has been going on with me.  It’s been a journey of questioning what I’ve known since a child and seeking answers for why as Christians we act certain ways and do (or more specifically don’t do) certain things, at least in public where others will see!  The ironic and upside down part of all this is I thought that by living the churchboy life, I had chosen to lose my life.  After all, I played by all the rules, said all the right things, and played the part as well as any human could.  In fact, in losing my life being a churchboy, I had lost so much life if it weren’t for the fact that I was conscious and breathing, I don’t even know if you could say I was living!  Life was a constant pressure cooker of looking the right way, saying the right thing, not giving the appearance of evil, not judging that person, not saying what you think, and definitely not letting anyone know you were human!  After all, we must be perfect because our Father in heaven is perfect (Perfect Imperfection). The sad part about this is I thought that was the best life anyone could ever live.

It all changed when I learned God loved me.  Oh yeah, the churchboy knew that Jesus had died for me and I was going to heaven when I died because I had my “fire insurance” and had asked Him to forgive my sins, and He lived in my heart, but there was no way he actually loved me.  I mean, sure, He would love me if I became what He wanted me to be, but there was no way He loved me as I was.  I had more scriptures to memorize.  I had a ministry to build.  I had souls to save.  There was work for the kingdom that must be done and I was the one who must do it!  What a load of garbage!  I have lost that life, if that’s what you can really call it.

Losing that life means life now looks a lot different for me than before.  Life is now about losing those rules and lists of do’s and don’ts that religion forces upon you and tells you must stay within in order to be accepted.  Losing my life means I’ve lost the need to try to become acceptable because I know I’m already accepted.  Losing my life means I’ve lost the need to try and change to be loved because I’m already loved.  (For more on this, see He Still Loves Me.)

Matthew 16:25 says, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”  By living the churchboy life and trying to do it on my own, I was trying to hang on to my life and didn’t even realize it.  So, when I realized how much He truly loved me, there was nothing I could do to ever change that, and He loved me as I am and not for who He wanted me to be, I gave up my life.

How has this saved my life?  Life is now about living in His love and sharing that love with others.  At home, at work, in traffic, waiting in line at the grocery store, dealing with the server at the restaurant who has clearly had a rough day, every situation is an opportunity to share that love.  It doesn’t require a sermon.  No scripture verses or references have to be mentioned.  In fact, you don’t even have to mention God or Jesus at all.  It can be as simple as a smile, as kind as looking someone in the eye and asking how they are doing, as pleasant as a gentle answer.  Love looks a lot like generosity and kindness.  Love gives without seeking anything in return.  Love is for the benefit of others.  Saving your life in this manner produces peace, joy, and freedom that can only be described when you experience it yourself.

To tell you that I have truly mastered this and express love in every interaction and live constantly in that peace, joy, and freedom would be just another futile attempt of the churchboy in saving my life and making myself appear as something I am not, but I will strive daily to continue losing my life and finding it in His love.

Rocky

(This post originally written January 28, 2018.)

 

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The 10 Commandments, tithing, church attendance, do this, do that, don’t do this, stop doing that….we Christians like to make things so much more difficult on ourselves. We have the mentality that in order to be approved by God we need to obey the law and be busy doing things for Him. Maybe by doing these things we feel better about ourselves and more spiritual because we are doing something for God.

Galatians 2:16 and 20 (NASV) make it plain that we are not justified by the works of the law. We are justified by faith in Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life here on earth. He lived up to the Law, the rules and regulations that God required for a person to be perfect. By doing so, when Christ died on the cross, he was qualified to be the perfect sacrifice that would forgive all our sins. When He died, He fulfilled the Law, or the Old Covenant. He said ‘it is finished’, meaning the old agreement was complete and done.

When He died and rose again, he paid the penalty for our sins. We were spiritually crucified with Him. Now all our sins are forgiven, dead and buried. We are now raised up as new creatures in Christ and live as the righteousness of God because of the free gift we received through Christ.

We no longer live according to the Old Covenant and trying to live up to the law. We are now free in Christ and we live each day by faith in Him. We live out of love for God because of the grace that was given to us by Christ. When we continue to try to follow the 10 commandments and Old Testament Law, we are saying that the death of Jesus was not enough to pay for our sins.

Enjoy the freedom Christ purchased for you. Don’t bind yourself with all the rules and requirements of the law. Live a life being free in Christ, and live it out of love for the one who purchased our salvation.

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Galatians 3:24, 25

The Law very clearly was used under the Old Covenant as a tutor, a set of rules to basically keep us in line. The Law was there for us to follow, and if we kept it entirely, we would be perfect and could obtain salvation.

Unfortunately, due to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, evil had control over the earth and we mere men could not live up to the standards of the Law. We kept falling short and were unable to obtain perfect living by the Law.

The Law showed us that we were in need of someone to save us. We were unable to do it ourselves. The Law, through its rules and regulations were ineffective to bring us to salvation.

Fortunately, Jesus came and lived on this earth and was able to fulfill the Law. He lived a perfect life and fulfilled every part of the Law up through His death on the cross.

At that point, He said ‘It is finished’, meaning that fulfillment of the Law was complete in Him and He was now the perfect sacrifice for us. The Old Covenant was a thing of the past and a New Covenant began at His resurrection.

Now we live through love. We love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and we love others as ourselves (Galatians 5:14).

Jesus lives in us and He has fulfilled the Law. We now live by faith in Christ and are saved through His grace. We no longer need to worry about trying to fulfill the Law or any part of the Old Covenant.

Jesus fulfilled all that was needed to provide for our salvation. We live through faith in Christ and depend on Him solely for our salvation. We are no longer slaves to the Law, but we are sons of God (John 15:15). We are righteousness in God’s eyes because He sees Jesus in us.

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Galatians 2:16 – nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus…….

We Christians sometime spend our time trying to obey the 10 Commandments and trying to do the right thing, when in actuality, we don’t need to be trying to keep the law at all.

We will go to church every time the door is open, tithe our 10 percent, we will not smoke, drink, dance, go to movies, we will look down and condemn those who do or do not do what we feel the Bible commands. We feel guilty every time we mess up and think God is going punish us if we do not do everything we know is ‘right’ to do as Christians.

What happened to grace? What happened to being saved through faith in Christ, and Him alone. Not Jesus and baptism, not Jesus and doing this or that, not Jesus and refraining from doing certain things. We are saved through faith in Christ and to be quite blunt, we do not ‘have’ to do any of these things or do not ‘have’ to avoid certain things to be a child of God. We have a freedom in Christ that was bought and paid for with the death and resurrection of Jesus. That does not mean we just live our lives doing whatever we want, but we living in the freedom we have through grace. We do things out of love, love for God and love for others. It is no longer out of obligation or trying to follow any law.LoveGod

Let’s stop putting all the rules and regulations on others that we think will make them better people and love them with the love of Christ and let God lead them in the way He wants them to go.

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