I don’t know if there is anything quite as disturbing as being misunderstood. You can know in your heart exactly what you meant, but others can hear it through their own personal grid which will many times distort the information they received. As I watch the opinions and debates on face book regarding theological issues it saddens my heart. Each time I read something controversial, I hear the verse in my head, “Knowledge puffs up but love edifies.” (I Cor. 8) When did we all get so smart that we are no longer teachable?
I remember a time a few years ago when I was with a group of people that questioned many of the things I believed. We were all in the “grace” family but the comfort that I found in “structure” was looked at as “living under the law.” I felt judged and misunderstood. I had been teaching people about God’s grace for years so to be accused of living under the law or being legalistic hit me below the belt. Listen as I poured out my heart in my journal:
“I am hurting tonight as I work on my Beth Moore “Believing God” homework as she talks about Noah. The following questions pierced my heart. Do you ever feel outnumbered? In the midst of feeling outnumbered, do you ever wonder whether your unpopular, minority belief system could be right?” How fitting to my life right now. When I felt judged, I gave into insecurity instead of standing tall in my personal beliefs. Do I like to have quiet times? Yes! Do I lead a person in a prayer when I am leading them to Christ? Yes! The list could go on and on of where I was questioned. Tonight I feel angry for doubting the things God has taught me throughout my entire life. I feel angry that I am trying to “fit in” with certain people and not stay true to myself.
God has challenged me this week to allow HIM to re-define for me the word spirituality. I don’t know of anyone that loves grace as much as me. (I’m sure each of you could say the same thing.) But when did grace start meaning anytime you grow and benefit from spiritual disciplines that you are under the law? God’s Word is clear that we benefit from spending time with Him in his Word and in prayer. I realize that the bible is words written on paper AND the Word is a person, Jesus. I also realize that people can study the book and not know the PERSON. John 1:1 BUT the words on the paper were given to us for a reason. They were given for our good, for our growth and to enhance our intimacy with HIM. God tame my passion! Allow me to choose studying and growing in God’s word without forcing my spiritual journey and discipline on others. Help me not to judge other’s if they don’t feel the same way I do. But at the same time, help me to be true to who I am and to not be ashamed of the fact that I have even kissed the Word of God after a time of study. People died for the preservation of the Word of God so that we would have HIS words today. I don’t believe that is something to take lightly. Does God grow us spiritually and speak to us in other ways than our participation in spiritual disciplines? Absolutely! I love the fact that God uses our thoughts, nature, songs, movies, other people, books and anything He wants to share HIS heart with us. HE will not be put into a box.”
Now to be fair to someone who is experiencing their freedom from the law for the first time I must say one more thing. Because I was definitely raised in a legalistic family and under the law for most of my childhood, part of my journey early on in my walk of grace included me taking a “break” from studying God’s word. (I didn’t say I took a break from God but from a ritual of studying His word.) You see, I honestly believed in the early 90’s that if I missed my quiet time I would have a bad day. If I didn’t tithe, I would have an unexpected expense come up that week. I believe that personal view hurt the heart of God. In reading Romans 7:10 I discovered something Paul taught me, “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.” There was absolutely nothing wrong with my quiet time or my decision to give a portion of my money to the church or a ministry. But something that should bring life to me was bringing death. Why? Because I had made it a law! At that time in my life I had a distorted view of the principles in God’s word. I really did believe it was up to me to grow. Now I understand who I am in Christ and that God has written His laws on my heart. I understand that now as I live under grace I do because I want to, not because I should or have to. WHAT A DIFFERENCE THIS HAS MADE IN MY LIFE! So in the beginning days the pendulum swung from the side of “doing to be” to the other side of “basking in the love of God while doing nothing” to “being so therefore I gladly and enthusiastically do.” As that pendulum swung I experienced a surprising lesson straight from God. I was so shocked to see that He blessed me financially in a week when I didn’t tithe. And there were times I felt his presence and affirmation when I didn’t have my quiet time. HE REALLY LOVED ME UNCONDITIONALLY! Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. v 21. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing. Paul goes on in chapter 3 to challenge the Galatians because (in his words) they had been bewitched. He asked, “After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? If you move on to Romans 6 & 7 you will see that when we died with Jesus on the cross we died to three things. We died to the power of sin, to our old self, AND to the law! So what should our view be of spiritual disciplines? I believe they are something useful and needed IF we understand that we are participating WITH Jesus in our growth through following the desires HE has put on our hearts. Do I have to pray or read God’s word? No. Do I want to pray and read God’s word? Yes! If I don’t want to spend time with Him then I may need to ask myself and Him why. There is always a reason and HE is happy to show us what we believe that could be a hindrance to our coming together with him in fulfilling communion.
So to pray or not to pray, that is the question? To read God’s word or not read God’s word that is the question? To financially support churches and ministries or not, that is the question? Not for me! Now the question for me now that I know who I am in Christ and for you is: What do you want to do?