The world operates on rules, you know those pesky things that tell us just how we should behave, how we need to do things. We have rules in our families, rules about behavior, rules in school, rules in the workplace, rules required to obtain a license, rules to follow while driving, rules about child rearing, rules about marriage, we have rules just about everything. There’s probably as many rules in this world as there are people, maybe even more. Rules run our lives.
We’ve seen in the Old Testament that the Jewish faith has plenty of rules. Over 600 for sure, and I’ve seen sources that said the rules numbered 613. So when the Christian church started after Jesus’ resurrection, it is no surprise that people involved in establishing it, would want to create rules and regulations. We read about this situation in the New Testament. This discussion about whether Gentile believers had to be subject to dietary laws and circumcision is discussed in Galatians and also in the Book of Acts. And because these new Christians who hailed from a Jewish background wanted to apply their set of rules to Gentiles (non-Jews) we have conflict in the church. Perhaps we sit back now and read about this disharmonious situation, and perhaps we shake our head over it, and say to ourselves “what were they thinking trying to pile on rules?”
We can wag our fingers and shake our heads over all this fuss, but we also do the same thing today. Depending upon which branch of the Christian faith you belong, you’ve got different rules, beliefs, and norms to which you are expected to adhere. And in some cases if you don’t abide by those rules, you’re out, you’re gone. Now, I’m going to point some out, and I hope that we don’t end up with comments that say “X” is right, and “Y” is wrong. Within the Christian faith we have differing views on (note: this list is far from being exhaustive):
Salvation – by profession of faith alone, or only in conjunction with baptism. Once saved you are saved forever, or you can lose your salvation.
Indwelling of the Holy Spirit – immediate upon profession of faith, or received after baptism, or only happens if you speak in tongues.
Baptism – sprinkle or immersion (partial, full, in a lake, in a pool); as babies, or at a different age; or if you aren’t baptized you’re not going to Heaven.
Confession – corporate confession, or private confession, or confession directly to God, or confession to a priest.
Absolved of sins – by God, or by a priest.
Communion – required weekly; or required, but only after confession and absolution of sin by a priest; monthly. With wine, or grape juice, or both okay.
Tongues – required to show salvation, or no such thing exists these days.
Women’s roles – women as pastors, or women as only teachers of children or other women.
Dress – women must not wear slacks; people must dress in suits and dresses “Sunday best,” or pretty much anything ok.
Diet – anything is okay, or abstain from certain foods during certain parts of the religious calendar
Bibles – King James as the only authoritative scripture, or other translations okay
Music – traditional hymns only, contemporary music ok; full praise bands, or no bands, organ or piano only.
Pray in church – head down, or kneeling, or hands folded, or hands in the air and faces looking towards heaven.
Dancing in church – yes, or hey, you better not!
The point is this – when people get involved in something, we’re going to mess it up for sure. Our thoughts, ideas, pride, and intellect get involved, and get in the way. And, when we get through with getting involved, I am fairly sure that what we end up with is most likely going to be off base from the original intent. Just like the Judiazers, we’ve also turned our faith into “religion” – a religion that says “do,” when Jesus says “done.” Then we too use our doctrinal viewpoint to squabble amongst ourselves about just what is right and what is wrong. I believe all that squabbling discredits our witness, and perhaps makes many people unable to define just what their faith is.
My faith belief –
The just and gracious God of the Universe, in response to hopelessly sinful people, sent his son, Jesus Christ, to live a life that we can’t, to bear His wrath against sin on the cross, and show His power over sin in the resurrection so that all who respond to the Holy Spirit’s call to repent and believe in Jesus will be reconciled to God forever. (Based upon a quote from David Platt)
Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ, who although perfect in every way, took every sin that you, or I, will ever commit, and took the penalty upon himself for those sins, so that we could be in a right relationship with God forevermore.
Here’s what I say that I am: I am a follower of the person and teachings of Jesus Christ and His Word. As such, I desire to glorify Jesus Christ by knowing, living, and sharing His Word, His life, His love, and His ways.
I am a Christian, precious daughter of the one and only true King.