recovering legalist

Dear God, it’s still happening. What the hell?Recovering Legalist

The legacy of performance-based legalistic Christianity is that it seems as though it never truly leaves me. I described myself recently as a “desperately recovering legalist”. Sometimes, it rears its ugly head when I’m focused on myself, but most often it happens when I am interacting with or thinking about the lives and situations of others.

First off, an apology. To every single human being that I’ve ever interacted with…I’m sorry. I’m sorry for somehow thinking that I had the right to decide where your relationship with God stood. I’m sorry for thinking your denomination wasn’t “right”. I’m sorry for thinking that I had to “share” my faith with you in such a way that would probably make you think “psycho”. I’m sorry to those who had a habit or engaged in a behavior that was prohibited by the “rules”, which therefore meant you were destined for hell.

Good news…gospel…truth. While I’m not a life-long scripture hound, I’ve been making up for lost time in the last two years. Being involved with two men’s support groups, a small-group Bible study, and a Sunday school class where the themes seem to be supernaturally woven together has really opened my eyes. Nowhere do I see “beat your brother over the head with this Bible when he swears” or “pull the cigarette out of your friend’s mouth and tell them it’s a sin”. Nothing says to stand outside a theatre or rock concert and tell people going in they’re headed for hell for attending. None of this. It’s all made up. Yet, I still think that I have to do this…or worse yet, that it’s OK to do this. Just today, I was on the phone with a friend and he said a cuss word. The internal legalist gasped and told me to admonish him.

Jesus Christ. Savior, friend…wow. It really is very basic. Trust, and become like a child. Grow, but always remain like a child. Oh, no…I can’t…what about following the list of rules??? Plain and simple…forgive as you have been forgiven. Love as you have been loved. Walk alongside as you’ve been guided.

I look around me. I’m surrounded by people. But I see so much more than I saw before. I see God’s precious creations. His children whom He loves. Stories to listen to. Tears to share. That’s all. Share what He’s done for me with them…tell them He can do it for them too. Love them, and let them love me!

Please forgive me. God will finish what He started. But He’s not finished yet. Please pray for me. Pray that when Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” pops into my head, declaring “well, isn’t that special?” after I hear about someone’s sin, I’ll remember that I have not walked in that person’s shoes, but maybe I need to.

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