Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Stuff about religious stuff
(This is my response to a post a friend made online about "keeping God's commands" to show our love for Him.)
(Dear online friend)
Thank you for commenting. I always welcome any and all to weigh in. And your comment was well thought out and written.
I do not think I disagree with anything you say and also appreciate the way you clarify that it is a bit of a nuanced and deeper issue than just "justified by works versus justified by grace".
I am intrigued to better understand how you and our friend see the keeping of His commands in the greater scheme of things.
But let me expound a little on where I am coming from.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I am mostly mindful of His grace and love, much more than anything else.
And because of this, His love is shed abroad in my heart and I desire to do right. I don't strain to do things I do not want to do, but rather wish do new things as a new creature in Him. This is because His commands are also now written upon my heart.
I have learned a lot as a father about how and why that relational description of the Lord is used often in the Bible.
I have two kids, one in 2nd year of college and the other a senior in High School. When I look at how my relationship with them has developed over the years, I see that there was a time where constantly correcting them and telling them what are the "rules" was necessary. We disciplined and even at times had to punish them to guide them in the way they should go. But we also always lavished love and affection upon them daily. They knew that our love would never be more or less, no matter what they did or did not do.
The end result was that they were quite mature in their early teens, much more so than many adults I know. I have such confidence in them to do what is right.
But they never strive to improve their relationship with me or their mom by going to great lengths to systematically show to us they are keeping all the "rules" that we have taught them to keep over the years.
They approach us with openness, grace and love and allow us to approach them the same way. And through that, our relationship grows stronger and stronger every day.
I am not casting any aspersion on present company at all, but I must make clear that in my 3 decades as a believer, one of the things I have learned about believers in general is that we LOVE to be religious. And we love religious STUFF of any and every variety. We love to fill our lives with lots and lots of religious STUFF, regardless of how it manifests itself.
Some of us like to fill it with stained glass, incense and statues. Others like to fill it with loud praise and worship music and jumping around. Others like to dive headlong into conspiracies and consume themselves with stuff about the end times. Books, tapes, CDs, seminars, conferences, prayer meetings, 3 to 5 services a week, not counting special occasions and revivals.
Regardless of the medium, we like to surround ourselves with our religious STUFF to remind us (and others and God) how much we love Him and how we are good people. Better people than if we were not doing all this STUFF.
And we feel quite justified when we do this, increasingly convinced that He is happy and satisfied with us and how we are living our lives, like the stern and begrudging Father that He is (in our minds).
Do my children occasionally stop to think about how they are living their lives, whether this pleases me and their mom? Of course they do.
But they are not consumed with it. It is not the overriding thought they have every time they think about us. It is a small part of our relationship. The vast majority of our relationship's foundation is based upon love and respect for one another and for others.
Again, there are no hidden criticisms of you or our friend within this. It is merely a small insight into my faith and how I see things. In my relationship with the Lord, I am consumed by my love for Him, His love for me and His grace above all other things.