Many Jesus followers, myself included, have fallen into the trap of strictly conforming to a list of rules and regulations that their particular denomination or brand of church adheres to. They believe deep down that they are better than other denominations because they do things a certain way. Then, these rule-based religious organizations and the people who support them, take it a step further by trying to coerce others into following their particular brand of religion; thinking this pleases God. In the process, folks forget the whole reason Jesus came to earth. As I continue studying Jesus’ life, I’m astonished that nowhere does He talk about forcing people to follow His set of rules and regulations. In fact, He says it’s impossible for humans to keep the law. He does, however, claim that He is the fulfillment of the law. Unfortunately, many religious cliques, I mean organizations,try to pressure others into adhering to their particular set of rules and regulations, all in the name of God. This type of behavior is foolish and should be strongly avoided. Paul addresses this very issue in a letter to the Galatians written between 49-58 AD:
You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a spell on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough. Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up! Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. Galatians 3:1-6 MSG
Father God, please help me remember this Truth and not fall back into man made dogma. How easy it is to build walls around my heart and mind by believing that if I attend a certain church, work harder, follow more rules, be more religious, and control my world and everyone in it; that those types of actions get me closer to You. What foolishness! For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2 It’s only when I trust You with my whole being that I’m able to live a life that is abundant and free. The life You planned for me before I was born. Amen.
Lisa M. Neal