Concordia quote: “to mingle legalism with grace distorts grace and makes a mockery of the cross.”
BOOM! That’s an exploding ‘grace bomb.’
So, how have we been guilty of doing that? Here are a few common ways in which we set up systems, processes, stuff that people have to do to practice their faith in Christ:
- Being compelled to tithe X amount (because, otherwise ‘you’re stealing from Jesus.’).
- Guilting people to attend Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday services because, otherwise, you really aren’t worshipping. If the church is open, you’d better be there!
- Singing only old hymns (because there’s so much theology in them) or singing only modern praise music (because those old hymns just don’t resonate now). Whatever.
- Infant baptism (because young babies are actually sinful people too). Of-age baptism (because babies must not be sinful).
- Drinking only wine in communion. Drinking only grape juice in communion. Again, whatever.
You get the picture. Placing ‘laws’ in front of people so that they must do X, Y, or Z in order to ‘please Jesus’ distorts Jesus’ grace, mocking His death on the cross. That, and it’s ridiculous. Indeed, if Jesus’ death and resurrection aren’t ‘enough,’ then just what is it that you believe? If Jesus didn’t do everything to accomplish salvation, just what else do you have in mind?
Fact is, you and I bring nothing to God that earns us any worth to even fall at His feet. Without His salvation, we aren’t fit to even think about Him, let alone presume we deserve salvation to live forever. Sure, we can live ‘good’ lives and do ‘good things’ but, in reality, those things mean nothing if they aren’t done out of love for Christ. Our best works are like ‘filthy rags’ if we are doing them out of selfishness, or to try to earn something from God.
That includes putting ‘structure’ around how people practice their faith. True, we don’t want to do anything that would dishonor God, but maybe that’s where we need to start checking our motivation. Every action, sacrifice, thought, anything that needed to be done to accomplish God’s perfect plan of saving mankind was finished at Calvary, then redeemed forever on Easter Sunday. All the new praise music, grape juice in sacraments, and Sunday services can’t add even an atom to it. Our old debts to the old laws are paid in full, by Jesus, forever. He did it all, in grace. As Bill Brimer might say, let that “grace bomb” explode in your life today.
For further reading: Isaiah 64:6, Galatians 3:1
Lord Jesus, forgive me for ways that I still cling to ways and things that mock what You have done.
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