Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Relationships Not Rules

There is a new “bumper-sticker phrase” (well maybe it isn’t new; maybe I just haven’t been aware of it) being indiscriminately thrown around in Christian circles that really bugs me. The phrase goes something like this, Christianity is about "relationships, not rules.”

I am not sure what that is supposed to mean. I would hope that it is intended to describe our relationship with Christ as a result of His unmerited grace through saving faith and not dependent on our own attempts to present ourselves justified by our good works. That’s what I hope. The problem is that I have tracked it back to Rick Warren. In his C.L.A.S.S. Seminar 101, he makes this statement regarding the nature of the church, “The church is a family. We operate on the basis of relationships, not rules.”

Now I have been in family relationships and, believe me, that statement would never fly. When I was growing up, my parents had rules and when I broke the rules, I severed the fellowship and I learned that this relationship had rules. As a husband, I know that there are some rules that cannot be ignored; to do so would definitely result in the end of the relationship.

Sometimes I hear people ignorantly misuse that statement in the context of their supposed liberty. “We are free from the law,” “all our sins are forgiven,” and “Christians are under grace and not under law,” they say. In a simple, anemic, four-step process of easy-believism, people are invited to repeat a magic prayer, invite Jesus into their life, and then they are told that they are safe and saved and heaven bound and they never need to worry about their sin again. One man arrogantly challenged me, “show me in the Bible where it says I have to (blank). And don’t bring up the Old Testament; we are in New Testament times.”

The new birth is NOT a license to sin with a get-out-of-hell-free card. It is a transaction where God transforms us. We don’t get to just ignore all of God’s laws just because we get saved. That’s insane! In his first epistle, John tells us, “…by this do we know that we know Him if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:4).

Dave Daubenmire, a veteran 25-year high school football coach, in his post, titled, Born Again, at Pass The Salt Ministries, said it far better than I could:

My coaching career was spent mending broken programs. I remember walking the halls and inviting young men to come out for the team. I assured them that the team was open to anyone who wanted to play and that the team needed them in order to be successful. That "football evangelism" over the years produced a great amount of fruit.

But here was the catch. The team was open to anyone, but once you were on the team there were certain expectations you were required to follow. No drinking, smoking or drugs, no long hair, keep your grades up, respect your teachers, and represent your school with honor. Isn't it amazing? Today you have to follow more rules to be on a football team than you do to be on God's team. God doesn't care how you behave, but your football coach does? Give me a break!

John 3:19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

So, where do you stand? I'm not interested in whether you walked an aisle and said a prayer. I don't care how much money you give to your church, if you sing in the choir, or if you have been elevated to the role of pastor or deacon. Is Christ your Lord?
Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Everyone loves that Savior part....few can swallow the Lordship requirement.

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is there will your heart be also. ....24 No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Born again, huh? Accepted Christ as Savior, did you? On your way to heaven...despite how you live? Living your best life now, are you? Jesus said our best life would be later.
Who do you serve? Who do you follow? Who is your Lord?

That's how you know if you are "born again".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Bible gives all sorts of rules, not relative to how to be saved, but certainly relative to what believers should and should not do. Christian liberty is not license to disobey the Lord, who said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments."

"But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man ...Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another..." (Colossians 3:8-13)

Sounds a great deal like rules, to me.