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Growing up, Sunday mornings were dreadful. Most everyone wore suits. The preacher yelled, especially when it seemed like he had nothing to say. And the same old guy prayed marathon prayers using a host of words with more syllables than his age. Since I was too young to understand churchy vernacular, I timed his prayers instead. Sorry, God. It helped pass the time.
Maybe it’s not fair, but years of Sunday sermons painted a God who was, at least in my mind, agitated, skeptical and shallow.
Graduation - Season - Parents - Sunday - Suits
After graduation, I entered a new season, away from parents and Sunday suits. By this time, I was convinced I couldn’t earn God’s love. Besides that, I hadn’t been baptized, and in my fellowship, the road to heaven passes through a small pool of water.
So, I began my new season without God (thankfully He never left me).
Picture - God - Divorce - Legalism - Fumes
Behind my earliest picture of God and my eventual (though temporary) divorce was legalism. I breathed its toxic fumes from a young age. Breathe in…”Frank, if you don’t give your life to God, you’ll go to ****. Do you want that?” Breathe out…God is an angry master. Breathe in…”Frank, are you really going to a church outside of the Church of Christ? Do you know what they teach?” Breathe out…I’m right, everyone else is wrong.
For years, legalism distorted my perspective and desire to follow Jesus.
Legalism - Legalism - Anything - Gospel - Legalism
What is legalism? In short, legalism is adding anything to the gospel. Legalism takes the words “Follow me” and adds stipulations, clauses and barriers. It’s a facade, and, over time, you believe its lies. The ultimate lie being the simplicity of the gospel isn’t good enough.
Legalism shifts the end goal from Jesus to something else. Legalism doesn’t care where you focus, anything but the risen Savior will do. And, it inevitably turns God into an agitated...
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