Those of you who have read my book Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, know that my central theme is that we Christians complicate Christianity be adding our rules—do this, don’t do that. Sometimes I wonder what would attract a lost person to Christianity as we present it.
We see a young lady wearing her dresses shorter than we think she should, and we tell her she has to change if she wants to be a Christian. We see a man take a drink, and we tell him he can’t do that if he’s going to be a real Christian. It seems like most of us have a long list of things you have to do to be a good Christian and an equally long list of things you can’t do if you’re going to be a good Christian.
Aren’t there enough rules and regulations in the world without our adding to them? Do we really need to appoint ourselves as monitors of the behavior of other people?
This is a theme that has long been important to me. You may have seen it in my blog posts as well as in my book. I think it’s a subject the body of Christ needs to embrace.
Sunday morning in Sunday School class, one of the songs we sang was Helen H. Lemmel’s Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. The first time I ever heard that song, I felt like I’d been transported to heaven. It’s a beautiful melody, and the words are so meaningful to me. I was reminded once more Sunday of the power of that song.
The whole song is beautiful, but the chorus, to me, is a summary of the entire Gospel:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
How do we Christians get things so backwards? We want to tell people what they need to do and be and how they must act in order to be Christians, but that’s not the Gospel. The Gospel is that when we put our faith in Jesus, He not only hands us a fire insurance policy—He begins a lifelong process inside of us to conform us to His image. He changes us from within.
Under the Old Covenant or Old Testament, God gave His people a lot of rules and regulations to follow. Under the New Covenant, however, God made the following statement in the 31st Chapter of Jeremiah:
31. “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah . . .
33. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it . . .”
This is the New Covenant. This is the Gospel. He puts it all within our hearts. He doesn’t use external rules and regulations. He works within us to change our desires in order to make us what He would have us be. When we turn our eyes upon Jesus, truly, the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
What things have you been told you have to do to be a Christian? What do you think of this simple Gospel?
If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
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Oh yes, I have to agree. It gets really hairy out there in the Christian Homeschooling Community. Some of the things I’ve seen/heard/etc. were that you had to wear certain clothes to be a good Christian. Or not watching TV. Or reading only a certain version of the Bible. While I do think that we should be modest in our appearance, limit our TV time and be mindful of what we watch, and to be careful of some versions of the Bible that have been made “gender-neutral” (this is what I have heard and not seen for myself), we need to let the Holy Spirit lead us. We need to be more concerned about our heart condition (how we treat others) than what we wear. If our hearts are not clean and pure and full of His love, then we need to work on that. I can be in rags but have a clean, pure, love-filled heart that shows the love of Christ. He is way more concerned about the condition of our hearts than following rules. Too many rules today in the church are mad made (well, I guess most of them are made made!), and therefore, full of fault because man cannot be perfect.
Thank you for so candidly writing about this, because many Christians are not brave enough to call out nonsense when it needs to be called out!
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Thanks fore your feedback, Shannon. If you’re homeschooling, you have my admiration.
Yes, David, so true! Jane
Thanks, Jane. Hope all is well with you.
What I’ve been told the last many years about what is required to become a Christian is to “accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior,” which I have done.
That’s it – exactly.
I stopped going to church about six and a half years ago. I got so tired of the buildings and rules being more important than the people. When they forced my autistic son out of the one class he could relate to because he was older than those kids, I’d had enough. I realize there will never be a perfect church but when the keeping the rules takes priority over the spiritual needs of a special needs kid, I’m done. It’s not that we still don’t believe, but I’m not taking him somewhere where he’s going to be bored out of his mind and zone out.
Yeah, it would be nice if all churches followed the bible’s example.
It’s a terrible shame what some churches – and some Christians – do to people, but don’t ever let the failings of men turn you off on Jesus, Kristy.
Oh I know. The only problem I have with anything in that area is that religion has taken over a big portion of churches. But that’s people, not Jesus. I’ve been a Christian since I was seventeen or eighteen. I’ve seen too much – including some out and out miracles. I’d like to think that by now, I’m in it for eternity. 🙂
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