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Crisis of Faith Part 1: Rules, Regulations, and Legalism

So, I’ve been struggling for some months now about why my husband consistently does not see Christ in me, why he continuously feels that I am not representing Him well.  We’ve had many conversations.  I’m combining those with sermons that have convicted me, with counsel, and with Biblical reading to investigate my faith, why it may not be growing, why it may not shine very bright.  I want to know what I believe and why I believe it.  I don’t want to be a Christian that simply spouts back to people what I’ve heard or “learned”.  This will be in several parts.  I’m once again very hesitant to make myself this vulnerable, this open to ridicule, correction, and judgment.  However, blogging helps me to sort through my thoughts, my days, like a journal, and the comments help me to see myself from a more objective perspective.  I also hope that God’s power will be seen through my situation and that he will be glorified. And so it begins…

I find myself like a Pharisee.  I adhere to rules.  At least I try to.  I like rules.  They make me feel safe, like I can’t really make a mistake if I’m following them.  And if I do make a mistake I’m not as accountable if I’m following a rule set by someone else.  If I only follow rules, I don’t have to think very much.  I don’t have to be an active learner. And besides, I made enough mistakes from birth to the age of 18 to age my parents at least 50 extra years and enough for all my children too. Why?  Because I didn’t follow the rules and guidelines set out for me. For years (probably my whole life) I’ve tried to impose what I believe – whatever it may have been at the time or whatever it may be now – on other people.  I’m right.  They’re wrong.  The end.  At least that is all too often what goes on in my head and heart.  I can even usually back it up with scripture and experience….just like the Pharisees did.  And, well, if you don’t listen to me you’re bound to make a mistake, do it wrong, because – well, I told you so.  In my eyes and my heart, I’m only telling you so you won’t make a mistake…because I follow the rules and the rules are right. Oh, and of course, I’m ever so guilty of passing judgement.  I’m sure we all are at some point.  But my judgment is based on rules that I follow that quite possibly may not be correct that I’ve imposed on other people that I don’t know and may never know (usually it’s HOPEFULLY I’ll never know).  I’ve found more and more that I feel obligated to at least strive to follow every rule in the Bible, to take everything literally.

That’s not a Christian.  That’s not a follower of the Lord.  I have failed in my Christian walk to relax and acknowledge that I am saved (more on why I haven’t done this in a later post).  However, nothing can snatch me from the hand of God.( John 10:27-29)  No snatching going on here. I can follow rules that I set for myself, but I cannot expect others to follow them as well.  I have to accept that everyone has different expectations of themselves.  I have to accept that people are going to act wrongly often.  I don’t have to approve of their behavior, but I don’t have to react to their bad behavior badly either.  Judging and imposing rules on them is not a good reaction.  Being offended by the breaking of my rules is not a good reaction. Being a Pharisee is not good.  It’s not the way to win people over.  I’m pretty sure that’s one of the reasons I haven’t won my husband over, or anyone else for that matter.  So, revelation #1, check.  It may seem simple to you…something I should know.  Something I should be able to practice and control.  But it hasn’t been.  I’m tired of being a rule following legalist.  I’m ready to move on.

For the next week or so, I’ll be trying to figure out the truth behind my belief in the Lord.  Why do I believe in Him? Why do I believe that He died on the cross for my sins?  What do I have to tell the lost if I’m ever asked these questions?  How can I represent Christ well if I don’t know why I believe in Him?

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5 responses »

  1. I really enjoyed this, friend. You are not alone. And you must admit your weaknesses before you can begin to learn and change for the Lord. Looking forward to learning more about you through your journey!

    Reply
  2. How exciting! I know it may not be for you, but in the end I think you’ll be amazed at what you’ve learned about yourself and grace!

    During this time remember you are a child of God and dearly loved by Him.

    Have you ever read Pursuit of Holiness? It’s really good and based on what I’ve read thus far here, I’m thinking you’d really like it.

    And thanks for the comment! I’m slowly working my way back into the blogging world. I’m just sooooo exhausted all the time!

    Reply
  3. I think that we all go through these seasons, you are not alone in your questions or your desires. I look forward to hearing about what you learn and how those new discoveries change your relationships and life.

    Reply
  4. All I can say is God’s grace is so wonderful.
    I have been there with all the rules I put on myself as well as allowing others to put them on me out of fear and condemnation.
    But realizing how marvelous is His grace towards me (and I have plenty more to learn) has been a journey of absolute freedom in Him.

    Reply
  5. Wow. This was as usual, honest and heartfelt. You have a way of just putting it all out there.

    I am reading and doing a study called “Grace Walk” by Steve McVey.

    http://www.gracewalk.org

    Jesus is using this to free me Liz.

    Love you Sister.

    Reply

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