For a little while I have been feeling down, a little discouraged. I can’t exactly explain why. It could be the change of seasons, or all the rain our area has been having. Maybe, it was all the comments I was making on other people’s blogs.
Comment sections will make one ill.
I learned a long time ago to totally avoid the comment sections on places like YouTube and our local news paper (online version).
YouTube comments are usually vulgar, vile, pornographic in nature, and full of hatred, ignorance, and vitriol. The comments in the local newspaper are also vulgar, vile, pornographic in nature, and full of hatred, ignorance, and vitriol. The difference is that the newspaper comments are written by people in my own town – my neighbors! If I avoid reading them, it is much more likely that I continue singing the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood theme song. Otherwise, I may throw my “sneakers” through the wall and choke somebody with an argyle sweater.
On the other hand…
I enjoy reading the comments on other blogs I follow. Because they are monitored, the language is acceptable and weirdos are usually weeded out. But on occasion, there comes along a blogger (hint, hint) who wants to pose questions that are meant to stir up the pot. The ensuing comment bombardments can stir up long-lasting debris from text-verse explosions, the result of which can choke the joy right out of a Care Bear (that’s an 80’s toy). A week of battling through these things has evidently taken its toll…I need a hug.
You see, the problem with legalism (over-simplified: a life of rules and regulations) is that it can give one a false sense of knowledge and understanding about God. Lists of regulations are fine, to a degree, but they are limited. Obeying lists does not make one any closer to the List Maker, or any more like Him. As a matter of fact, following the lists too stringently may cause one to risk missing something written between the lines, or even miss the reason the list was given.
I have come to a simple conclusion about God: I don’t need to argue anymore about lists – I just want to know Him.
A list in our hearts
The Bible talked about the time when the Law would be written on the hearts of men (Jeremiah 33:31). What does that mean? Well, it’s easy to understand if you think of it in terms of relationship.
If you are in a close relationship with someone, it doesn’t take a list for you to know what makes that person happy or sad…you know in your heart. God essentially told Jeremiah that a day would come when men would no longer need a list to live by, but they would act according to relationship. In a close relationship, a grocery list can help you prepare for a special night. However, without a relationship, a grocery list from a total stranger might be easy to check off, but it doesn’t mean you’re invited to dinner.
Keeping with the “grocery list” analogy, have you ever been given a list for things to pick up at the store? If the list was from an employer, your boss at work, and he wrote down ten items he needed for the office kitchen, the safest bet would be to buy exactly what he requested, no exceptions. You would not want to question his authority or wisdom, and you would especially not want to seem insubordinate – you could get fired. You would be wise to not think for yourself – just follow the list. That’s like LEGALISM.
What if the list was from your husband or wife? Would you feel stressed walking into the store? Would you be afraid to go home if something on the list was not available, leaving you with no option but to find a substitute? If you were in a healthy marriage, you would know to make the best choices for the sake of your family. No list would have to tell you that. The key is that you would not be chained to the list, but you would be free to make the best choice for the sake of your family. You would be trusted. And if you messed up, you’d still have a home to go to. That’s like GRACE.
I pray that I come to a point where everything I do gives evidence of the fact that I have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I want to know Him more. I want my heart to beat in rhythm with His. I want to be able to distinguish between things that bring Him glory, and things that break His heart.
Jer 31:33 – But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jer 31:34 – And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Psa 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.