Saturday, 27 March 2010
“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
Who do we follow in our modern church? Where do we call upon for guidance and advice? What is the corner stone of morality? What is the plumb line of righteousness? Who do you Call upon in your darkest hours? Where do you place your allegiance.
Is it in a Theif?
Is it in a Centurion?
Or is it truly fully in Christ?
Upon the mountain of Calvary those many years ago hung our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Our King and counselor. Our redeemer and prototype, the one who came to save and restore us. He is the one we are called to follow, to emulate, to revere. Yet why is it then that we drift away and follow the others that were by the side of Christ that fateful day? The others that are forgotten in our minds yet radiate from our hearts and lips. The two others who stood and hung beside Jesus on Calvary. The two dark highways that border the narrow path.
“What others are you talking aboot” you may be wondering, they are the Roman centurions and the thieves. The two thieves placed at each side of Jesus, and the Romans who surrounded Him. These are the ones who “stood” closest to Him on the day everything changed. Yet why do we follow those around Christ now and not the one at the center of it all?
I know that we don’t literally parade our selves as thieves up and down the streets. We don’t literally gather in Thieves Guilds. I realize we don’t physically dress up in iron armor carrying shields and swords to church to watch Russel Crowe. No once again as it always is, it is about the heart of the matter. While not physically, we do believe in their ways spiritually.
First off the centurions who where the ones who man handled and abused Jesus in Pilates court. Then did literally what the Pharisees wanted in their hearts they nailed Jesus to the cross. It is their nature and instinct to follow every order given whether moral or corrupt, legal or illegal, they do as commanded by there leaders and demanded by their Laws. They where the enforcers of the Law. They are a picture of the “path of Legalism”
Where the thieves lay at the complete opposite end of the spiritual spectrum. These thieves represent the “path of License” (lasciviousness and lawlessness.) They have lost their moral compass believing that what is right is what serves themselves best for there are no consequences. They believe in no form of law or order they are the exact opposite of legalism. The two opposing forces clash back and forth over and over again forming a great deadly pendulum, which clouds and obscures the narrow path between them.
What is legalism you may be wondering? simply put it is. “You yourself trying to follow God through your own actions in order to obtain salvation through the work of your own hands by following “prescribed” tasks and orders given by someone else, which “supersedes” the heart of the gospel” Which is the exact opposite of what is says in Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Or here in Mark 7:9 “And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”
While license can be defined as “You yourself doing anything and everything you want with out restraint knowing that you will be forgiven anyway by the grace of Jesus without consequences in your life, so why bother to do anything” Which is the opposite of what is says in 1 John 3:4-6 “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” Or as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
How many churches and denominations have been formed from these two paths and by the one retaliating against the other. Why is there never a “center” in this, why must we follow the wolves of Law or the pigs of Lawlessness. Where has Christ disappeared in all of this. Is he just locked in the basement only to be revealed every now and again to justify our traditions and ways. Has the message of the gospel been boiled down to a few quaint anecdotes to keep us all nodding blindly our heads as we loose our grasp on God.
Can we just be honest for one minute and say what is really going on here, this is a war between Gnosticism and Hedonism within a veil of Christianity. With each side using its own pet (ripped from context) scriptures to justify what ever the hell they want to do, whether it be controlling through laws or exploiting through others selfishness, have we forgotten Galatians 1:9 “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” It has to stop as a whole and in our own hearts. We are all responsible for our own actions who will you follow the thieves, the centurions or Christ almighty whom the others claim to give final authority. This isn’t about them it’s about YOU right here right now, who is your God, who will you choose, who will You serve. God once said in Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live”
I urge you if your are drowning in ways of legalism follow Galatians 5:1 ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” If you are trapped in license and lawlessness remember what Jesus said in John 8:10-11 “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” And again in John 5:14 “Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”
Now at this moment we can immediately come boldly to the thrown of grace and receive mercy. Christ is standing in the middle of all of this calling us to follow him in the perfect law of liberty Paul spoke of in Galatians. Before the day was out that day on Calvary both the thief and centurion accepted who Jesus truly is. The centurion cries out in Mark 15:39 “And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.” And even one of the thieves cries out in Luke 23:43-43 “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Even now today right now you can look into your heart and sprit and ask him “have I been struck by this pendulum, have I wandered into dead legalism, or into empty lawlessness?” Be honest with yourselves and with God.
Who will you follow?