Saturday, March 17, 2012

I Bound What?

One of the things that I have noticed is that folks who toss around the Law and legalism often seem highly confused when people say that their rules are binding their conscience or are burdensome. I was giving thought to this fact this morning. Here is my initial two pronged thesis.

Legalists and pietists never think they are binding some one to the Law because they don't think the Law is a terrible, crushing thing. They do not think they are binding someone's conscience because they have found "the way" to live that keeps their conscience "clean".

Now, while that may sound condescending and cruel... it's not. Most of the time folks who whack people with the Law upside the head don't think they are doing any whacking. The Law of God is good... therefore if something crushes you, that just needed to be crushed. Of course, this completely ignores whether this is a matter of Divine Law being used to bring forth repentance so that one might see Christ all the more, or this is a matter of someone dropping their own paths and plans for the truly pious life smashing another person with yet another holy hoop to jump through.

The Law is not good in a vaccuum. It is good because it shows our sin - that is why it is good and wise. The Law is good because there is Gospel... if there is no Gospel, nor if there is a movement towards the Gospel, the Law just kills... and that isn't good.

Too often the Law is used to drive not to the Gospel but to a level of self-satisfaction, where one has obtained the appropriate level or course of actions and piety - where one can then say, "All these I have done from my youth" - or at least, "I used to not understand, but now I'm a good Christian and I _____________" where that blank is filled with some self made bit of piety.

And this shows up across all theological lines. Whether it's living the purpose driven life or finding the exact right way to comport one's self, it all becomes reflexive saying, "see, I have done what I need to."

That is not the Christian faith. The Christian faith is "Christ be merciful to me, for You have done it all for me." There is life only in Christ. There is peace only in Christ.

If you look at the law and get a feeling of peace... you're actually ignoring the law. When you throw Law at folks and wonder why they squirm, you've forgotten the Law. And when you toss your own proclamations and people and can't understand why they reject them as inappropriate, you have learned nothing but why the Papacy in the middle ages was so glad to be the way it was.

1 comment:

Amy Orban said...

Thank you for this post, this is a message I need to hear again and again. I am currently struggling in a denomination that seems to redefine SIN often with words such as "human nature." The teaching seems to be that we are only guilty of the sin which we knowingly and intentionally DO, but not guilty of the sin which we so obviously THINK and ARE. I have the growing conviction that this perspective is a complete undermining of the Cross and and Jesus' death for us. This is not to mention some of the "holy hoops" (great words!) I have not been walking with Jesus for very long, but am definitely grappling with some of these big theological issues. I am always glad to read from someone else what I have a hard time putting into words myself...Thanks!