When a blog post begins with the following quote:
Many Christians have grown up in the church on moralistic preaching; that is, preaching that calls for obedience without connecting the commands of God to the cross of Christ.
…let’s just say you have grabbed my attention.
Obedience for Obedience’s Sake
How many times, growing up, were we told, “Don’t do this,” or, “Do that?” I am sure the actual number is incalculable, as I find myself uttering [ok, pleading!] with my own sons to simply “do as you are told.”
And that’s the rub, isn’t it? We expect and want those around us to “behave” but do little to no explaining why we expect or want them to “behave.” It is simply too easy to recite the do’s and the do not’s without explaining the “Why.” When we reduce behavior modification to a series of commands, we are simply laying the groundwork for legalism to take root.
Again, the example from my sons looms large in my mind. So many times, I have heard one boy call the other out for some minor offense without any grace or patience for the offender to rectify the situation. Perhaps not so oddly, I see the same practice amongst grown ups, only it is usually a lot more sophisticated than, “Attaboy took my Lego!”
Showing the God of the command moves us from preaching moralism to unpacking theology. It moves us beyond the command to the God who gives it.
When we fall into moralism, we are setting ourselves, and others, up for failure. There is no possible way for you or me to live up to all of the laws laid down for us. Pointing out the faults of others simply shows how insecure we are in the mercy that our Savior extends us. My failings, which are numerous, are unique to me. What is also unique to me is the mercy and grace that He shows me on a
daily moment by moment basis.
The grace and mercy of our Lord is extended to all. Yet we, the created, find it so difficult to be patient with our brothers and sisters, we find it so difficult to be gracious or merciful to everyone…
The larger disconnect, however, is removing grace from the commands. Can you imagine a faith based solely on following commands that are impossible to fulfill? Talk about a soul crushing, cold, impersonal faith!
When we understand that the commands laid down for us are for one main reason (HIS glory), we can delight in His grace and mercy when we fall short of His glory. Practicing moralism moves the focus to us, instead of pointing us to our Creator and His love for us.
Two Commands. That’s it.
He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence-and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” Luke 10:27
When I am impatient, upset, frustrated and angry at someone’s inability to see things the way I believe is correct, I am falling flat on my face in keeping BOTH commands. When I lack a level of sensitivity to another person’s feelings and sensibilities, I am failing miserably at loving them.
And, if I actually stop to think about why I am upset, frustrated and angry, it is typically a product of putting myself and my will before His perfect plan.
How are you disconnecting God from His commands? If we can not revel in His grace and mercy because we disconnect Him from His commands, what, exactly, are we reveling in by practicing moralism?