Friday, March 18, 2011

Realistic VS Legalistic

Realistic VS Legalistic
Are you being realistic in your faith or legalistic? Legalistic is defined as: the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.
Realistic is defined as: interested in, concerned with, or based on what is real or practical. So again, I ask how you in your personal faith in God?
I want you to Look at 3 scenario's and be objective:

1. Which christian does more harm, one who drinks alcohol(wine/beer) socially, in moderdation, or rare occasions (not getting drunk) or a christian who gossips regularly and often?

2. Which christian does more harm, one who was led to Christ by reading the (NLT) New Living translation of the Bible or one who condenms every translation except one or condemns anyone who reads any other translation other than the one they think is the only one?(typically the King James Version).

3. Which christian does more harm, one who fellowships and accepts other christians of other denominations or those who believe different than them on certains biblical issues or the one who thinks their church is the only church going to heaven and you are only a christian if you got to "their" church?

These are only 3 scenario's, I could write several others but for space/time reasons I won't. My point today is, there are many judgemental, narrow-minded, ignorant, set in their ways, and uneducated, maybe even some well-meaning christians out there, who are doing more harm than good. They condemn certain behaviors or people or groups, while their own behavior or attitude is really more harmful to themselves, others, and God. PLEASE UNDERSTAND I am not endorsing or promoting drinking, every bible translation, or even every group that calls themselves a church, but we need to be realistic and objective, that sometimes we fight the wrong battles, focus on the wrong things, and many people do more harm than good. Also, we need to keep in mind that we all have indiviual freedom, convictions, and preferences in certain areas of our faith.

Let's look closely at these 3 scenarios:
First, scripture is clear on getting drunk and drunkeness being a sin (Luke 21:34, Romans 13:13, I Cor. 6:10, Prov. 20:1 & 23:20-their are several other scriptures as well), however, scripture also teaches us (whether we like it or not), that Jesus did indeed drink wine (Luke 7:33-35 and John 2-water into wine-he accepted others drinking wine) and Jesus clearly didn't condemn alcohol use, but scipture does condemn mis-use, abuse, and lack of self-control of alcohol. Alcohol isn't the bad guy, it's the people who use it excess or abuse it. Sort of like people who abuse authority, food, or other things out of their intended boundaries. However, gossip is always wrong. There is not place in the bible where gossip is ok in moderation, on occasion, or in social settings. Gossip is ALWAYS wrong. (prov 11:13, 16:28, 18:8, Romans 1:29, 2 Cor. 12:20) However, many churches are full of "christians" who gossip on a daily basis and nothing is said, but you hear or see a "christian" drinking a beer at a restaurant or see a picture on facebook of someone having a glass of wine at a social gathering and we automatically condemn them as being a hypocrite, sinner, or evil? But we look the other way at our church full of gossips, dividers, and slanderers?

I think it's honorable if people choose to abstain from alcohol, certain foods, or certain hobbies, or practices, but we must be very very careful to not bind our own personal convictions on everyone else(Go Read Romans 14, esp 14:22) especially when scripture doesn't back it up, and again I'm just using alcohol and gossip as examples. Don't miss the forest for the trees.

Secondly, the word version or translations is pretty self-explanitory to me. It means it's a version of the original or a translation of the original text. Not every tranlation or version is a good one, but not everyone is a bad one. Many people have come to Christ and have grown in their faith and even preached and taught others with the King James, New King James, New International Version, New Living Translation, American Standard, Revised Standard, and the Message to name a few. Who is more Christ-like? One who shares the word of God and reads it and does what it says or one who is dogmatic, negative, judgemental in saying there is only ONE translation and the rest are uninspired, evil, perverted, or wrong? Heaven will be a small place if only people who read one version go there. (Eph 5:6-empty words, 2 Tim 2:24 false teachers, Hebrews 4:12-God's word). Sometimes translations improve the original texts, and changing words, doesn't always mean changed meanings. Wy is translating the orignial texts into today's language so evil? If we found another ancient writing today, would we not translate it in today's language or would be go back to 1600 Shakespeare old english? Jesus did not speak old english folks. Which is realistic and which is legalistic?

Thirdly, there are many denominations, non-denominational, established, and independent churches out there, there are many branches of different movements. I agree there is only ONE church, but that church is GOD's church, not a certain denomination or non-denominational group. The church is the BODY of Christ. HE is the head and we are all a part in that body.

We may attend the Baptist, methodist, church of Christ, Presbyterian, or community churches, but we all can be a part of HIS church. Are there churches or certain religous groups out there that aren't teaching the bible correctly? Yes. Are there churches out there that started for the wrong reasons? Yes. Is there a church (group) out there that's doing everything correctly? No. No church whether denomination or not, is doing everything correctly, or has all the answers. If there was, then Jesus died in vain. Do we all have to agree with every topic, issue, or doctrine out there? No. Do I have to have the same belief about speaking in tongues, the end of times, baptism, or grace to consider you my brother or sister? I shouldn't, but many people do. They judge someone a christian or not based on whether they agree with them and where they go to church.

I don't agree with a lot of peoples views and I certainly don't agree with every denomination or doctrine out there, and many wont' agree with me today, but that doesn't give me a right or authority to condemn every christian who doesn't agree with me or doesn't go to the same church I do. When we do that, we limit God, put Him in a Box, and make salvation about being in the right group or right set or rules and not about what Jesus did. Jesus condemned this type of behavior (read the Matt, Mark, Luke, & John and Jesus words to the Religous leaders and Pharisees. Paul fought legalism too, read Acts). Jesus came to FREE us from religion, rules, and legalism, by enabling us to have a relationship with him. Why do we want to make being a christian, going to church, and being saved so hard for people?

Are there some churches and christians out there mis-informed? Yes. Are there some things I believe that are probably wrong? Yes. That is why it's important for us to talk to God daily, read and study our bibles, and contine to grow in our faith. Many churches are known for what they are against instead of what they are for. Many christians push people away and turn people off from God and the church because they are arrogant, argumentative, pushy, and judgemental. You are not going to lead too many people to Christ with those types of attitudes. Does that mean you have to agree with everyone or be comfortable in every type of church? No. Go to church and serve where you feel led, but don't condemn another church, worship style, preference, or christian just because it doesn't match up with the way you were raised, taught, or even feel. (Romans 14:1, John 3:17, Romans 15:7, Gal 2:21, Eph 2:8-there are many other scriptures)
We need to be REAListic not LEGAListic. Our salvation comes from God, not our own smarts.
Our relationship of faith in God is up to us, not others. We will answer to God, not someone else and not our church group or personal opinions. I believe in absolutes, I believe in boundaries, right and wrong, and sin. But, I also believe in personal freedom/choice, grace, preferences, and common sense. What is wrong for you, might not be wrong for me, but I am also to exercise wisdom and discernment. Sometimes things are better for us not to do or say, not because they are a sin or wrong, but because it may offend or hurt someone else or even hurt the church.

Sometimes we might not agree with someone over bible translations, worship music, or even doctrinal issues, or personal choicies, but we can agree that Jesus died for us, he loves us, and His grace covers our sins if we repent. We make things issues that I believe God never intended for them to be issues, but when you mix human beings that are sinful by nature an not perfect, things get complicated.

God wants us to have freedom in Him, that's realistic. God doesnt want us being legalistic and limiting His love, power, and grace. No matter your views, opinions, preferences, or even beliefs, be careful to get the plank(Matt 7:3-5) out of our eyes first.
We may never drink alcohol, but we gossip constantly. We may only use the King James, but we never use it like the person who uses their NIV everyday and shares their faith. Or what about ther person who prays and fellowships with people of other denominations, while one person has nothing to do with anyone other than "their own" churches. Who is making a bigger difference?

I don't have all the answers, you may not agree with some of the things I said today, well good news, you don't have to. I'm at a place in my walk with God where I'm not going to let people, churches, or anything dictate how I live, believe, feel, or serve.

I want my life to reflect my relationship with God and that's as REAL as it gets. I want God to use me to give others FREEDOM in Him. WE need to stop being so legalistic in our religion and start being more realistic in our faith. I encourage you to search the scriptures, pray, and study on your own, don't take my word for it, take God's.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

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