People love to make lists, read lists, and list lists. I think humans feel nothing more satisfying than listing and categorizing things.
Well, a topic that came to mind as I was writing my two previous blog posts, and as I reminisced about the days spent back inside the institutional church system, was legalism.
As for the church “system”, one thing I learned was that people preferred to live by a list of rules (why do you think the sermons are usually a list of 5 things to do to be a better Christian, because people love lists!)
Yep, good old legalism. A word that is not even in the bible, but gets talked about all the time, and taught without even knowing it (or do they know?). I personally think legalism is a deadly disease that is slowly killing the local church, just like the story of the frog in the kettle. Don’t know the story… look it up.
We all have a strong tendency to want to live by a list of rules, that is what makes legalism so appealing. If you want to be holy, becoming a “legalist” makes holiness a manageable goal. It is really tough to have your heart totally devoted to God Himself, so writing up a list of rules that we can cope with helps us feel better. So, legalism makes holiness achievable.
You to can do this by first finding something you feel absolutely passionate about, say removing sex, violence, nudity, and language from movies. Then just make an arbitrary standard for that behavior (one of course you can keep yourself without being hypocritical). For example… make a blanket statement that it is absolutely wrong to watch rated R movies, period. After you have the standard behavior down, now comes the rewarding part. You now get to judge everyone around you according to the standard you just created. You can sit back and gloat as you consider how inferior everyone else is to you, and why you are a better Christian because you can keep the easy standard. And if you are up to it, you can now work yourself into a self-righteous outrage. Either way, you come up a winner!
Here is a small list of ideas you could become passionate about.
1. Become an environmentalist – then judge others that don’t recycle as immoral.
2. Start a powerful prayer life – but put down others if they do not at least pray 10 times a day, and 5 of the times have to be on your knees
3. Start exercising – However, if you partake in yoga, you are not a Christian.
4. Abstain from drinking – But, anyone who drinks alcohol is of the devil.
This list could go on and on… but I will stop being a smart-ass
oops.. forgot one.
5. Start to watch your words – Anyone who says “smart-ass” or has a website with bullshit in it… place them as an outsider.
You can fill in anything you want in this quick list to become a better “legalist”. And, in no time flat, you too will be a stuck-up, self-righteous jerk who others can see right through.