Moving From My Life to a Life of Love

Jesus repeatedly decried the religious leadership of his day, noting their focus on legalism and lack of love. Paul wrote further about how we are not to judge, lest we be judged. Growing up in a small town Southern Baptist Church I was generally taught that living a certain way and believing a certain way was what defined being a good Christian. There was one truth, the conservative fundamentalist approach of the SBC understood that, and it included following quite a few rules, whether they were scriptural or not. Now, in fairness, many of those rules were based on scriptural principles or were, at a minimum, prudent things to do or to avoid. But, generally speaking, as I’ve grown in my relationship with Christ, I see that much of that focus was more like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day: a focus on legalism at the cost of love and such a focus risks being focused on the splinters in another’s eye (judgmentally), all the while a plank is in the eye of the one adjudicating.

Oh, the freedom of seeing this and releasing that life of being saved from the world by my own good living and believing a certain way. Of course, living in the reality of God’s saving grace and that salvation is not based on my conduct at all is wonderful, and liberating, but it must be tempered always by truth and love. Furthermore, what I found as I moved away from the infantile life of a conduct-based theology, I began to struggle with the same sin I was trying to move away from. Instead of judging people because they might say a bad word, drink a beer, listen to certain music, or watch an R-rated movie, I found myself judging people who lived that conduct-, rules-, and religion/me-based life. I even wanted to poke them in the eye for doing so. I might have realized that I didn’t want to be a Pharisee, but now I am tempted to sit around on a high horse looking down on those who haven’t gotten “there” yet (I’m saying this is how I think when i get all proud of myself). When will I be free of this self-centered focus I drift towards every time I shift my focus from God??

I am afraid I’ve made this too short and some of the connectors are missing. I hope readers will make sense of it…

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