Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. 8 Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ 9 and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. 10 All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, 11 so that somehow I also may be raised to life. Philippians 3:7-11 (CEV)
8 In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.Philippians 4:8 (TEV)
65 Once again you had gone back to your old follies!… And afterwards, when you returned, you didn’t feel very cheerful, because you lacked humility. It seems as if you obstinately refuse to learn from the second part of the parable of the prodigal son, and you still feel attached to the wretched happiness of the pig-swill. With your pride wounded by your weakness, you have not made up your mind to ask for pardon, and you have not realised that, if you humble yourself, the joyful welcome of your Father God awaits you, with a feast to mark your return and your new beginning. (1)
In the movie “Footloose”, there is a characterization of Christianity, or at least Christianity that used to be.
A Pharisaical legislative, in your face, take names Christianity where those that danced, or drank, or went to movies rated “PG” or worse were held up and scorned. Where the rules of behavior were set in stone, and by golly, if you weren’t going to obey those rules, you were going to be tossed out. If you questioned the rules, you were considered a rebel and someone to be watched.
A generation later, and perhaps we’ve gone the other way, yet are still “legislating” what is right and wrong. Or more accurately, we are simply legislating everything as right, and banishing any thought of the idea of something being “wrong”.
The Pendulum has reached the other side of the swing, This time, it has done what it rarely does – it has taken the church with it, gotten the church’s okay for what is vulgar, profane, sinful. I look at my fb page and what I and others post, and am shocked. Even if permissible, the things we post aren’t beneficial, (didn’t Paul say something about that?)
As one whose vocation, whose career deals with helping people in their brokenness, I see both these extremes as wrong. I have dealt, and continue to deal, with those damaged by these forms of legalism. The damage is horrendous, the pains are real, the broken families, broken marriages, broken friendships, broken people just mount up,
The ways that would excuse and/or justify any behavior, and the kind that would force behavior modification.
That’s not how it works in scripture, for like the old computer rule, these tactics focus on negative behavior – and even taking them in leads to sin. Garbage in, garbage out. Both ways do this – one by approving it, the other by making it tempting and looking good, in the very way we forbid it.
Holiness is something else though. It is abandoning all of these behaviors, not because we are forced too, but because we realize their value compared to the value of knowing Jesus, to knowing the love of God, to knowing His comfort and peace.
Paul’s idea of Phil. 4 – about concentrating on the “good stuff” isn’t law – it is 100% gospel, when you hear it with chapter 3 still fresh in your mind. Because those things he says to focus on are found in the presence of God. They are God’s nature. They lead us to adore Him, to want to be like Him, and in Him finding the strength to that which is positive. The more we see this, the less desirous the life of the prodigal will be, the more we realize the grip of sin was broken at the cross. There is something about that cross, about the crucifixes and crosses we have, that remind us of His love, of His devotion, of that which is unlike anything else we can now.
Will we see God’s glory for what it is? Will we walk with the Lord? Will we realize the garbage that we feed on daily for what it is, and leave it behind to know the love of God?
Lord have mercy on us, and help us to desire you in our lives, and therefore find the holiness that is found in your peace.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 490-495). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.