When you think of legalism you think of right-wing fundamentals imposing a demanding set of rules to follow. Today we have to deal with a different kind of legalism, one that has the face of “love” but still devoid of Christ.
I normally don’t pay much attention to articles like this one by Cherise Luter but a few things jumped out at me.
It’s frustrating to hear when someone rejects the gospel because no one could answer their questions. It’s even more annoying when they think they’re too smart for God or the church.
Then I read this:
At 25, I was still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (one of the levees broke a block from my apartment) and adapting to my new home in Houston. I was angry and in a lot of pain. I did everything right. I followed all the rules, I’d think bitterly.
My whole life, I had hung around the right people, stayed away from the wrong people, went to church every weekend, and even sang in the choir. I thought my religion would be my saving grace, but instead, I suddenly found that I had no real relationship with the God I’d claimed to serve. I had to make a change. I had to get real with God.
So I threw all of my questions at God. And God had a comeback for each of them: Just love.
This part of the article got my attention because she raised the same questions as Job, though I’m not sure she realized it.
Why do bad things happen to “good” people?
Job’s “friends” came to him and said that he must have done something wrong to cause his children to die. Job defended his integrity, though, almost to the point of prideful arrogance. How could this be his fault when he was above reproach?
After they went around in a few circles for a few dozen chapters God enters the dialogue and asks Job 66 questions, back to back.
When Job poses his questions to God, similar to Cherise’s, God doesn’t answer him with,”simply love.”
Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
God is certainly righteous but He is not stumped by Job’s questions. He has to remind Job that there’s lots that he doesn’t understand but takes on faith. Job can’t possibly comprehend the big picture.
The one thing he can be certain of is that God is sovereign and in control. That’s not a faith based on knowing nothing. It’s about knowing the most important thing. We read in Proverbs that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Cherise sadly ends the article by arriving at a Christ-less Christianity, one in which the gospel is missing. Where is Jesus? What mention is there of His sacrifice to atone for our sins? How about the imputation of His righteousness to us?
It also bugs me that Cherise is certain she can love people the way God desires. The kind of love that God wants us to show each other is challenging and unappealing to our nature. It’s something that we can only do with the help of the Holy Spirit.
I fear that Cherise has substituted one form of legalism with another. All she has done is to lower the bar so that she knows she will come out ahead. That’s just a rigged horse race. My hope and prayer is that she encounters the only gospel there is and puts her trust in Jesus as her savior and redeemer.
It is only by the grace of God and the blood of Jesus that we can approach the heavenly throne. As the hymn says,”Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”