I’m a recovering legalistic Christian. I was a pitiful sight with planks coming out of my eyes as I paraded my faith around with the assurance of my good behavior.
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
– Luke 6:42
It’s amazing how many times I read that verse in Luke and had no idea that I’m the fool with the issue, not the person I was “praying for”. I tried my best to do all the right things, and in turn, actively avoided doing all the wrong things. The dangerous side effect of law-based Christianity is that I quickly became the vessel in which I could gain acceptance in my faith.
And so began my journey, uncovering my legalistic mindsets, with a view of who I am, who Christ is, and where the two intersect. And I’ve been on that journey for over 12 years.
And it’s messy. Trying to deconstruct years of false belief systems that supported my views of work-based faith is no easy task. Learning to listen to the word of God through the filter of the Holy Spirit and not some teacher I admire greatly, hasn’t been as easy as it should be.
But I stick to the following principles when it comes to testing biblical teaching:
- Is this scripture being taught within the context in which it was written?
- Does this teaching confirm the teachings of Jesus?
If the answer is no to one or both, the answer is “Take it with a grain of salt”.
I read Jen Hatmaker’s “Interrupted” a few years ago. It came along and just the right time. I had been feeling a little out-of-sorts on my own pilgrimage and it was refreshing knowing that I wasn’t the only believer that was reassessing the machine in which I came to faith.
There were times I found myself reading entire chapters to my husband. At others, I’m underlying entire pages, because, well, because she’s telling my story.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
– Ephesians 2: 8
I don’t know about you, but this journey of grace is wrecking my life.
It makes me uncomfortable that the rules I held so fast to no longer apply. That Jesus is more concerned about my heart and how I am loving my neighbor than he is with my church attendance and my behavior.
But I’m glad I’ve been interrupted and I’m excited to see what’s in store. I’m glad that I’m actively engaging in scripture in a meaningful and self-reflective way.
It’s all I have to offer.