Friday, October 13, 2006

Are we too legalistic?

One of the great benefits of working with other believers from various backgrounds and denominations, are the discussions that we have concerning the Word and the traditions of man. So often I wonder if conservative believers make Christianity so unattractive that nobody would want to be a part of it. While we as individuals must make decisions about our actions and how they affect our relationship with God, we really have no right to judge others for their actions. It is important that we realize that what we do may have an impact on others and we will be held accountable for that when we meet the One that has the right to Judge us. But we ourselves are not the righteous judges that we often set ourselves up as.

I often relate to people a story that fellow evangelist, Ron Mills has shared. A young man that had just become a believer asked him if this meant that he was going to have to give up drinking. Ron's response--It does now. The point is that if drinking is something that was going to be more important than his relationship with Jesus, he would have to give it up. I'm sure that there would eventually come a time when he would have decided that drinking may not be the example that he would want to set for others. Pastor Terry often says that the more responsiblity that you have in church, the more leadership that is given to you, the fewer choices you have. Often the decisions we make about our behavior has less to do with what we think may be right or wrong and more to do with how others will perceive our actions. We have a responsibilty to new believers and unbelievers to set an example of good living without being judgemental.

As a gospelmagician, I have encountered churches that have asked that I not use playing cards in my show. While I don't have any problem using cards as props, I understand that some people feel that the cards themselves hold an evil that can cause people to sin. I used to think that it was silly and shouldn't matter. Now I feel that the pastor is probably already out on a limb by having a "magician" in church and do my best to honor him and God as I present the Word.

I didn't grow up in a Southern Baptist home and don't have a problem with cards (we played card games almost every night), dancing, social drinking or in the privacy of your home, bingo, raffles and other things that raise the eyebrows of so many of my brothers. I do think that any of these can cause a problem and be sinful as we fail to keep them in moderation. I don't want you to get the idea that I'm being wishy-washy where sin is concerned--I'm not. But it is also important to me that you know that I am not your judge. Neither are you your judge, so don't base your behavior on what you think or feel is right. Look to the Bible to guide you. God once spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said, "You honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from Me. Your worship is in vain and you teach the traditions of men."

Let us not hold others back by being so legalistic that honoring God appears to be hard. I want others to believe that honoring God is well worth doing whatever it takes to live for Him. No, it is not always easy. Yes, sometimes it is hard. But it is never dull or boring and the rewards along the way are the greatest treasures that life has to offer.


"How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye." Jesus, Sermon on the Mount

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