Monday, May 7, 2012

What if our legalism was love?

She fiddled with her wet hair, turning it into a long, sleek spiral.  "I think God is asking me not to date, to just be with Him for a while."

We sat on our deck, the 90 degree May weather weakening as evening fell.  It was the night before Cinco de Mayo, the night before the night our moon would be as big and bright as it gets.  We could see the moon from our plastic patio chairs, glazed in a layer of cracked clouds.

I knew as soon as she spoke the words what the other girl felt.  I could see the heavy across her face, the doubt, the confusion of where she stood compared to what her best friend had just verbalized.

"So does that mean I'm wrong for dating?  I mean, I feel like I have to be in the wrong place when I hear someone say that."

These two girls, I love them so deeply.  I have journeyed with them for three years now.  There have been sleepovers, shopping, movies, Facebook (and more Facebook), confession, prayers, the sharp spear of the Word dividing bone and marrow.  They are a decade younger than me, but they are my friends.

"You know what?"  I asked.  They nodded, inviting more.

"I think that there are some things that God doesn't give a prescription for.  We know certain things are wrong based on His Word-- lying, greed, sex outside of marriage.  But other things?  I think He has a different plan for different people.  Some Christians would set up rules for you about dating.  Absolutes.  But what if what God wants most is for you to follow Him, not rules?  If you live by rules, then one of you is wrong.  But if you live by relationship, if you live by pressing in close to Christ and listening as hard as you can to His voice, then you both can be right.  Both seeking Him."

I've thought a lot about that conversation since Friday night.  About the extra rules that we as Christians have created.  You know, we're not the first group to struggle with this.  Jesus socked it to the Pharisees for the same thing.  "They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them."  (Matthew 23:4)

It's so easy to do.  What a sneaky trick of the enemy: a holy rulebook for life.  Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that the Bible is very clear on issues of sin.  I'm talking about the things that aren't clearly spoken on in the Bible.  Things that we get caught up in "being right" about.  Personal convictions that we force upon others.  Good ideas for us that we turn into heavy packages of law for our neighbor.

It is heaps easier to live by rules.  It's heaps easier to take someone's prescription and set my face towards doing it as well as I possibly can than to fall on my face before Almighty God and seek His heart.  

So we get out our pens and we scribble away:

"Don't use birth control."

"Don't date."

"This is the only way to study the Bible."

The woman who told my mom that if she sent us to public school she didn't care for our souls.

Lines, rules, can'ts.  And it seems to me that the more of these we create, the less love we live in.

What if our platform, our campaign, was simply Jesus?

What if we encouraged others to listen to Him instead of us?

What if we offered to walk alongside others as they figured out life, praying with them, being with them through the struggle, trusting that God's voice will indeed speak louder than ours?

What if we let go our of rules and took hold of relationship?

What if we made love our legalism?  


What if the issue that the world accused us of being unmovable about was love?

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