Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Legalism v. Faith Alone

Joseph Stowell writes about the ancient town of Phillippi - where the debate over legalism v. faith alone raged. It is amazing to me that 2,000 years ago Christians had the same disputes as we do now.

I spend very little time now arguing with people about how they should practice their Christianity, although I remember having those debates with people years ago. There are probably two reasons that I no longer debate how churches and Christians "should" be. Most of my friends attend the same church that I do, so we agree about the style of worship, etc.

Most of my colleagues don't attend the same church I do because I work quite a distance from my home. But, I still don't ever discuss the details of church style or Christian worship with them very much. Sometimes we do talk about our faiths, but we rarely get in legalistic disputes. I actually think that I have matured and developed more respect towards other believers. What I used to dismiss as odd behavior because it was so different from whatever I was accustomed to I now accept as just a different style of worship.

Unfortunately, I do still have a debate with myself about what it takes for me to be a good Christian. I know that all I need is faith, yet I constantly place extra requirements on myself. Have I read the Bible enough? Do I pray often enough? Am I serving enough? Am I treating others the was Jesus would? Etc.

It comforts me that 2,000 years ago believers were having the same debate I do - what does it take to be a Christian? Every time I feel guilty that I have this internal debate, I can relax. It is not a new debate. Wars were fought over this issue. Churches divided. Much greater theological minds than mine have spend decades debating this issue. I shouldn't expect that I would not be troubled by this issue.

I imagine that if I never worried about what it takes to be a good Christian, I would not value my salvation. I worry regularly about what it takes to be a good wife, a good mother, a good attorney. So, it is only reasonable that I would worry about what it takes to be a good Christian. Just like the believers in Phillippi did 2,000 years ago!

This post was inspired by the book Simply Jesus and You by Joseph Stowell.

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