Confession time to my blog reader(s): I have both a lake of rule-hugging legalism and raging river of free-spirited rebellion mixed together in my heart. Part of me wants rules, part of me wants no rules. Over the years, I’ve sort of boxed-off certain areas of my life and labeled them as either “sinful rebellion”, like rolling my eyes and sighing “Mo–om” if I disagree with my dear mother, or as just “my religion.” It wasn’t until a few months ago when my co-worker and brother in Christ mentioned a quote by Martin Luther, paraphrased: “Man has two defaults. Sin and religion.” (“sin” meaning flat-out opposition to God’s righteousness, “religion” being our rules and self-born attempt at God’s perfection.)
The Holy Spirit has been just laying on His grace to show me that I need so much more of Him and so much less of myself. All my “rightousnesses” are just rags (HE said that! Is. 64:6)and my grandest sacrifices are pointless without God-born love. (see 1 Corinthians 13)
There are now but two rules that should rule my life. They are the two greatest commandments, according to Jesus Christ, and His commandment is all that matters. Here they are: 1.) love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and 2.) love my neighbor as myself.
O Jesus, may I be so consumed with my love and devotion to You, that I disappear and YOU are all that is seen! And in my pouring out of my very soul unto You, my Beloved, may I also be a vessel of your mercy and a channel of your love to all I meet, because self has been buried and I am set free to embrace my neighbor with the radical grace of heaven! You alone are worthy of the best I’ve got, and may nothing encumber my journey. No self-made religion, no sinful rebellion, no more nothing of self, O cleanse me, please, please! Make me like YOU! Deliver me from my bondage, purify me with Your holy blood, empower me to live this incredible life of victory and joy, rescue and rapture!
These lyrics by Derek Webb (formerly of Caedmon’s Call) really highlight this truth of freedom vs. legalism:
Don’t teach me about politics and government–just tell me who to vote for. Don’t teach me about truth and beauty–just label my music.
Don’t teach me how to live like a free man. Just give me a new law.
I don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy, so just bring it down from the mountain to me.
(chorus) I want a new law, I want a new law, gimme that new law.
Don’t teach me about moderation and liberty, I prefer a shot of grape juice.
Don’t teach me about loving my enemies, don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit–just give me a new law.
What’s the use in trading a law you can never keep, for one you can that cannot get you anything?
Do not be afraid, do not be afraid, do not be afraid.”
Yes, Spirit, teach Your truth to me! Wash me in the Word of Truth, emfold me in Your love, send me out with Your promises and presence.