Friday, February 13, 2009
For most people in the Christian Community 'legalism' is a term we use to describe the way fundamentalist lead their lives. Christians who wear a suit to church on Sunday, men who wear short hair, women in long dresses and no makeup are types of people we would consider legalistic. But that is not what legalism means. Legalism is when you judge someone by a non-biblical standard. The long skirts and hymnal huggers are only legalistic if they claim that is the only way to please or honor God. If they think that I have to cut my hair or wear a suit to church to be spiritual then that would be considered legalism. But, if you wear the long skirt and the no makeup and not define your spirituality or anyone else's by it then you are by definition NOT legalistic. If someone who express church in a more holistic and organic way and judges another expression of church is by definition legalistic. If someone who lifts holy hands during worship and judges someone else for not lifting up their hands that would be legalism. Now this flies in the face of our traditional terminology. I think that is healthy because if we associate life style or methodology with legalism then we miss the whole point altogether. So you have to ask then, is there a right way to do church? What you will find, as you study your Bible, is that there is very little said about the organization and implementation of the church. In fact Paul said that there are differences in how people would implement a "church." (I Cor 12:5-6) God knew that cultures, philosophy, mores, languages and people change over time. He built a freedom into the Bible that allowed the church to accomplish the great commission in their appropriate context. You can have the argument of whether or not a model is more relevant but you can't have the argument over whether one is more spiritual or not. But relevancy only targets people who are relavant. Not everyone is relevant. There are many lost people who are not relevant. But God did call us to everyone. Relevancy itself does not equate to spirituality. The only two ordinances were the Lord's Supper and Baptism. Outside of that you can meet in a house with 3 people or have a large-suit wearin-hym singing church and glorify God in both contexts. The moment you assume your 'way of doing church' is superior or more 'spiritual' is the moment you become legalistic and just remember that pride comes before the fall.