Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Danger and Necessity

Do you know what a personal legalism is?

If you've been around church much, you know legalism.  Rules that get applied across the board without regard for the situation or the people involved.  Call it Zero Tolerance with a Bible in hand.  Just as dumb.  Just as dangerous.

But there are personal legalisms that are actually helpful.  And some of the time, they're necessary.

Consider the helpful ones.  I'll give two examples from my life.  I have a rule that I don't ride in the car by myself with a woman who's not a relative.  To my knowledge, I've only violated that rule twice.  All were by necessity.  Another example:  I have accountability software on my computer to make sure if and when I am tempted, I don't go off and do something destructive to my life, my family, and my ministry.  Okay, one more example - consider it a bonus.  I put the biggest darn window I could in my office door as soon as I became the pastor at Heritage Park.  I didn't have anything to hide.  And just in case I did, I didn't want to be able to hide it.

But they're just personal.  That's the way I've decided to do life.  I won't force those on you.  I might point to them as the ways of wisdom and talk about how they've been helpful.  But when what's helpful to me becomes a hard and steadfast rule for you, that can get dicey fast.  It can bind you up in thinking that you're right with God because you are doing these things.  Wrong wrong wrong.

So think about the helpful and the dangerous legalisms in your life.  Apply them with wisdom.  Share them with kindness.  And be careful.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

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