If you have died with Christ to the world’s way of doing things, why do you let others tell you how to live? It’s as though you were still under the world’s influence. People will tell you, “Don’t handle this! Don’t taste or touch that!” All of these things deal with objects that are only used up anyway. These things look like wisdom with their self-imposed worship, ⌞false⌟ humility, and harsh treatment of the body. But they have no value for holding back the constant desires of your corrupt nature.
My parents were saved at a Billy Graham crusade in Albuquerque, New Mexico when I was about five years old. Soon after, we moved to Southern California to join other members of the family and a good job that was waiting for my dad. We attended a local church for a couple of years and then my mother began listening to a radio program called “Through the Bible.” The decision was made to begin attending that church because of the wonderful Bible teaching. It was not close but the distance was never a problem.
The legacy I have from growing up in that church through High School cannot be ignored. It was great. But, it was very legalistic. No movies. No dancing. No playing cards. No…no…NO. I’m a good rule follower and praise and acceptance from my peers and leaders made it worthwhile.
But as the years passed, I began to realize I had a lot of truth and little grace — for myself or anyone else — because, legalism leads to judgment, criticism, and distance between people. Legalists may appear to be righteous and spiritual, but legalism ultimately fails to accomplish God’s purposes because it is an outward performance instead of an inward change.
I have recently read some devotionals by Pete Briscoe and listened to a podcast by Colleen Swindoll Townsend as she interviewed her dad, Chuck Swindoll. My parents attended Chuck’s church after I left home so I have had the privilege of meeting him. Both men wrote and spoke about the importance of grace.
Grace gives life because the new covenant has replaced the old covenant of the Law. Grace allows us to see people as individuals, created by God, and chosen by Him, regardless of age, race, status, gender, or any other category we want to use. The walls we put up because of perceived rule-breaking do not allow us to love or accept those that are different. As Gregory Boyle writes, “If we love what God loves, then, in compassion, margins get erased.” And the best part is that now we are free!
Freedom means the voice that I hear is one of love because I am God’s beloved daughter. My father never told me that he loved me, however, I knew from a certain “look” when he was displeased and my goal was to avoid that look. But I know that God loves me just the way I am. The walls can come down. After a lifetime of following man-made religious rules, I’m finally hearing Jesus say to me, Daughter, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? Then neither do I. Go in peace. (John 8:10-11).