Our Church’s Outreach Ministry: Eagle’s Faith Fellowship → Inspirational Teachings (EFF-IT) has been collecting testimonies over the last month. This one was particularly moving, and I wanted to share it with the self-assured non-legalist readers. You pathetic sinners probably won’t get it.
The testifier is a former Sunday school teacher, who has since had a falling out with EFF over our lax stance on women’s head-coverings. He is now a contributing blogger at The Gospel™ Corp (@thegospelcorp).
Many people talk as if the basic Christian message is meant to save people from legalism. Whether or not these people are right, I am not a legalist.
What is legalism? One pastor, kind of a spray-tanned jokester in my opinion, has gone so far as to re-define legalism to mean “performancism.” First of all, don’t trust a guy who makes up words. Secondly, this way of thinking would basically condemn all of our works – even those works that are definitely good and holy. Do we really want a “faith” that leaves us without anything of our own to cling to? I didn’t think so. Jesus paid it all, yes, but I have made some pretty wise investments that better not be overlooked.
These grace guys are saying that everyone is basically a slave to their own system of justification. They claim that all of us, good guys and bad guys alike, are attempting to anchor our sense of worth and meaning in our law-keeping (legalism) or performance (performancism). To them I say: so what? Maybe if your performance wasn’t so awfully embarrassing you wouldn’t be so fussy.
If, indeed, everyone is a legalist, and legalism is “bad,” that would mean that going to a church that talks only about self-improvement plans (most of them) might only feed the problem by pointing us more and more to our own conduct and away from Christ’s finished work on the cross. So, are you going to stand there and tell me, Mr. “Grace Preacher”, that going to church can be bad? Didn’t think so.
See, to me, God is a relationship, not a religion. There, I said it. See, I’m not a legalist, am I? A legalist wouldn’t have said the bit about a relationship. Right? And a relationship has never had a scent of legalism. It might be transactional, yes (if I buy someone a birthday gift, I do expect them to buy me one of equal or greater value). And you might be thinking to yourself: transactionalism and legalism seem to be pretty similar, at least in spirit. My response to you would be this: you are making up words like Tullian now, you jerk.
Go ask someone on the street if they are going to heaven. I have done this many times, and the answer is almost always a variation of: “I think so, because i haven’t really done anything that bad.” So, maybe they are a legalist, but that’s only because they know nothing of the Christian faith. Once you are in, legalism is not really a thing anymore. If it is, it’s at least not a bad thing.
I know that God loves me. Jesus is my co-pilot. I know that he loves me more if I do my job as co-pilot and jerk the controls away from him constantly to showcase my superior ability at nailing loop-de-loops in our fighter jet, firing at Nazis [on his behalf] (neverminding the overspray of machine gun fire on unsuspecting citizens and nearby friendlys) until we are a flaming ball of death and shrapnel, plummeting to the ground and decimating a city block. Welcome to my discipleship.
Does any of that sound like legalism? Psh. Didn’t think so.