So, a couple days back in “Journeying Toward God,” I said I’d have some follow-up points on Christians and non-Christians and where I notice they can really get off track. Well, first, the Christian folk.
I see in too many Chrisitians the kind of legalism that Jesus railed against when he was arguing with priests and scribes back in the day.
It’s not that Jesus didn’t believe in the law. He did. It’s not that he didn’t follow the law. He did (and was one of the precious few people in existence who ever did). But as he point out on more than one occasion, the spirit of the law was the critical thing, and not the literal letter of the law.
What good is a sabbath day where you don’t work, but you’ll let someone suffer because to help them is to “work?” What good is paying tithes if you go through your day with no kindness or mercy? What good is praying if you do it in public just so people can know you’re really doing it, when you might not even be feeling it?
I see a lot of Christians around me, whether literally or on TV and in books who are all too willing to spout the Word of God and tell us why we must follow it, but who don’t get the larger points of salvation, mercy, love and the rest.
I have, for example, slammed the Duggar family many a time for their beliefs as part of the quiverful movement. They focus on the relatively few Bible passages that talk about the blessings of a large family, and make like that means we should just keep spitting kids out as fast as we can. But that’s not what the Bible tells us. In Bible times, for one thing, people didn’t live very long on average compared to today. They worked the land or sea in many cases, and needed children to carry out the family work. In some cases, God wanted the Hebrews to have many children so that there would be plenty of Hebrews to carry out His plans and his works and set the path and eventual stage for Jesus.
We don’t live in a world where having tons of kids is good idea for most people (at least speaking from someone in an industrialized nation). In fact, it would be a back-breaking financial burden for 90% of families to simply just keep spitting out kids. And yet there are people like the Duggars who will hold it up as doctrine that we should be doing this because that’s what the Bible says.
Children are still a blessing, and we should have them for many reasons. But within reason.
Chrisitian will rail against homosexual marriage in society, when the only thing they should care about is whether their church is actually marrying gays and lesbians. On a societal basis, it isn’t any business of the Christians whether the government and the people as a whole want to let homosexuals marry. I don’t think it should be something that churches are forced or expected to do, given the biblical prohibitions. And yet Christians will lose their damned minds over this issue and start thumping the Bible in front of everyone to say it’s a societal evil that should be prevented or purged. But the Bible wasn’t written to build a society. God wanted it to provide a spiritual path.
I could go on with other examples. Prosperity ministries. Speaking in tongues. Killing abortion providers.
The journey to be in synch with God from a Christian perspective relies on an understanding of the Bible. But that understanding is not gained by compiling a list of do’s and do not’s. It is gained by understanding why we need to seek God and by recognizing the larger scheme of thing. It’s about opening our hearts to heaven and at the same time to those around us.
If we do those things, we will act in line with biblical precepts much of the time.
If we’re just following a rulebook, we’ll get off track every time, just like the priests and scribes Jesus criticized.