“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ~ C.S. Lewis
We’ve all done it. Christmas is over and New Years is upon us. The challenge to read our Bible in one year creeps into our minds and we are resolved to do it this year! January comes and you get through Genesis and Exodus, but then you get to Leviticus. A detailed book of ceremonial, moral and civil laws. The rules that God expected of His people. The laws priest meticulously abided by. At the end of that book, I remembered just craving the New Testament where Jesus summed up all the law to this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22: 38-39).
It is human nature to find loopholes in laws or rules. This is why we have 60,000 page health insurance plans. Even with children we say: “Don’t hit your sister”. Brother then touches her and annoys her, “Don’t touch your sister”. Brother then holds his finger before her eyes and gets as close he can to her skin. “Don’t hold your finger so close to her”. Brother then begins to touch his own eyeball making the girl scream in disgust. “But, I’m touching myself!” he yells out in triumph. He found the loophole. We all do it. When making a U-turn, when figuring out where to park, when sitting at a restaurant, we make decisions based on signs (rules) or lack thereof. It doesn’t say I can’t do this or that, so I’ll do it. It says I can, so I will. It says I can’t so I wont. Some rules we obey because they make sense, others we obey out of fear – paying taxes is one of them for me.
As Americans we love rules! And structure is a good thing, but what does that look like when we act out our faith?
The professing Christian cannot live like this. Yes, we shouldn’t commit adultery and it is a sin, but Jesus expounds on that and says, “love one another”. Am I loving my brother in Christ if I look at him with lust? Am I loving my husband, if I dream he were different or sigh after actors or read books that excite me sexually? Does the Bible then have to specifically say: Do not lust after men. Do not lust after younger men. Do not think of leaving your husband. Do not watch movies that make you think badly about your husband. Do not read books that are sexually explicit. Do not look at magazines where men show off their toned abs. Do not stare at men exercising. Do not compare your husband? The list can go on and on!! Is that what we are saying when we pompously exclaim: “well where does it say that I can’t do that in the Bible?”. Is this what we truly want? More rules.
This is where we clearly see the difference between morality and holiness. Morality demands rules. It needs details. It commands specifics. It is a slavemaster. Holiness, on the other hand, is a way of life. It does not need specifics. It is a life picture. It frees expression. It is a liberator.
The moralist hates the rules, because he wants to enjoy his own pleasure. The saint loves God for He is his highest pleasure.
I am not unaware that in the New Testament there are ways we should live and things that are forbidden and things that are not. But these rules are not there to feed our Pharisaical tendencies. They are there to allow more freedom. Let me explain with an analogy that I give all the time to teens. There are two playgrounds on a mountainside. Both are close to the edge and if you fall from any of them you will die. But one playground has grass around it and a fence all the way around. Where will you have more freedom? The answer: where the fenced one is. Now some of the teens ask: “well can we play on the fence?” and that is the wrong question because you have a WHOLE PLAYGROUND, why do you want to play on the fence? The saint enjoys the playground, swings high and low, runs and bounds, laughs and squeals. She may fall, she may scrape a knee, but she will not die. That is what these boundaries are in the New Testament, they allow for so much more freedom.
We shouldn’t have to ask “where does it say that in the Bible” in regards to rules. Ask yourself, “Am I loving God with my heart, mind and soul” when I do this or think this? And “am I loving this person as myself” when I treat them this way?
Christianity is so much more than a list of do’s and don’ts. It is a way of life that exists on a completely different plane. We are odd because we get excited when God reveals more of himself to us through His Word. We are weird because we love on the ugly, the mean, the depressed, the annoying in very unique and individual ways. We are not normal because we still fawn over our spouses and love being married. We are crazy because we are quick to forgiven and even quicker to ask for forgiveness. We live in a different world. We don’t have the same problems as others. We follow the beat of a completely different and heavenly drum. We feed strangers, we hang out with prisoners, we go to places all over the world, we smile more, we cry more, we laugh more. Our money is spent on others, on Godly knowledge, and on the furthering of His Kingdom. Our family tree consists of people of all tribes and nations, of children abandoned by their biological parents, or widows and of criminals and the insane! We have tons of stories of what God is doing in our lives. Good things, wild things, frightening things! We almost die and laugh at his salvation. We then die and rejoice! Our hope is not in our money, in our children or even in ourselves. It is on the work of what Christ did, it is on Heaven!
You see then how all this is muted if we then ask, “Well where in the Bible does it say I can’t read ’50 Shades of Grey'”. My dear Christian, go ahead and read that filth if you want. I will be over here going to a garage sale with my kids (3 of whom are foster kids), as they buy me 25 cent coffee mugs that say I am a #1 mom. I will be planning out a surprise party for a dear saint. I will be thinking of a way on how to love on a sad friend. I will be memorizing some new verses to help battle temptations. I will be shopping for decorations for a new Crisis Pregnancy clinic. I will be on the floor overwhelmed by the realization of my salvation. I will be peeing in the jungle with a fellow sister in Christ. I will be going to a fun movie and having great conversations with teenagers who struggle to fit in. I will be listening to a great pod cast that provokes me to love God on a higher level. I will be meditating on a delicious verse about God’s love for me. I will be holding the hand of my husband, leaning my head on his shoulder as we listen to our Pastor preach. I will be enjoying the prayers of my daughter as she lays her worries on a very big and awesome God.
Go ahead and play with the mud pies. I will be over here enjoying the sea.
This is a picture of the mug one my foster kids gave me for Mother’s Day last week. He is 8 and his mother has basically abandoned him. Yes, I cried. Yes, he is a darling! And Yes, it was $.25 at a garage sale we went to. 🙂