buy a lawnmower from Sears
the process of moving we are gaining land. Now,
that is not a big deal for many people, but by moving
across country we are gaining "land" in the
new house. While that may seem cool, one needs to
remember that now I have to spend Saturday mornings
mowing a bigger lawn.
What was once done with a nice craftsman push
mower, will now take a riding mower. Which brings
me to my story.
looking around our new town we stopped by the local
Sears to see what a "riding mower" would cost.
While we were there, a couple of sales people came up
and wanted to help, which was cool. So, we started
to ask questions. Not being from the area, we had
a lot of questions. However, before any of my questions
were answered, one of the sales people asked how long we
had lived in the area. I mentioned that we were
interviewing with a church and that if all went well, we
would be out at the end of July. With that, the
following conversation took place:
a pastor?" he asked (with a big emphases on the
I replied, looking over at Tina.
are you interviewing?
are talking with Connection." (By the way, this is
the best church in the world)
they a 'Christian' church?" he asked.
This confused us, because I said nothing before to imply
that it was not, nor did I say anything to imply that it
was. All I had mentioned was the name of the
church. Then it hit me - the church is not the
"1st" or "2nd" anything, nor does it
have a "traditional church name." So
looking over at Tina, and looking very lost, I answered,
"Yes, it is."
denomination?" he asked (again, I was
wondering if I was falling into a trap, and at that time
I saw Tina stepping back from the conversation)
I think it's more 'multi-denominational' than anything,
but no 'denomination.'" I answered.
who is in control?"
I said, kind of sheepishly and just waiting for the
hammer to hit.
I hope so - but, do you believe in 'the law?'"
He asked, with the term "the law" being more
like, "the laaaaaw." And with that, I
knew, I fell into some kind of theological trap. And
with that I looked and saw that Tina had made her escape
to the other side of the department looking at socket
I am a guy of grace, not law. So, I am not sure you will
be happy with my answer. Let's let it go." I
answered. But, that was not going to be the case.
He looked at me, with his friend standing in complete
agreeance beside him, said, "The law is important
and if you reject the law you are rejecting Jesus."
With that, I started the search for Tina. I spotted her
and she was calling me over - giving me the perfect
thank you but I disagree" I said, at my most
humble. "I came here to see about a mower and
really do not desire to have a theological debate.
So, about this mower..."
Then, I was cut off by his friend, who said,
"So, you are denying the law? And you call
I said, "now about the mower..." but then it
became a tag team attack. "So, you’re
really not a true Christian because you do not believe
in 'the law.' How can you call yourself a pastor
if you are not teaching the law?"
tried to answer, but again realized I was in the
theological trap that I did not desire to be in - a
discussion concerning "grace" and
"law" with some fundamentalists who work at
Sears. My desire has nothing to do with my not
being secure in my opinion, but more in the fact that I
was at Sears, buying a lawn mower, and really not
interested in debating. I also find it hard to
have an open discussion with people who want to spam you
with their points, never allowing you to get your point
in. At about this time, Tina returned to take me
it's all good. You think as you like, I've got to
run." I said as I was trying to make my way
to Tina. They followed and just kept spamming. I
thanked them again, but they kept coming. The one who
started this all, looked at me and said, "I have
been a senior pastor.
I am currently an elder in my church, and I have
two masters degrees in theology.
I can tell you are wrong."
that, Tina grabbed my arm and we started to head out of
the department. Which, by the way, is the easiest
way to get rid of fundamentalist Sears sales people on a
law kick. It's like a chained dog, they can't leave
we were walking away, Tina looked at me and said,
"Who gets 'two masters degrees in theology'?"
With that, we laughed and went on.
teachings, Paul’s letters, and I are pretty straight
forward in that God is primarily concerned about our
intent, and the quality of our relationships, and grace,
not law. Jesus said that the entire law was based
on two principles; loving God, and loving others. I
believe that as long as we do this, we are not bound by
any specific legal code. We are called to a free,
non-legal approach to following Christ.
those who differ, and agree with a "legal
code" as a rule of faith say that ideally a
Christian who is following Christ perfectly should not
need a legal code. His heart should be so filled with
love, and his mind should be so in tune with God that he
would do the right thing naturally. This is always the
Christian ideal. However, because we remain imperfect in
this life, most Christians would say that law has a role
to play, even if it isn't precisely the same as it was
for the Jews. Now, I find this a weak and abusive
use of God's word, and that we are 100% under grace and
not at all under law. (Romans 6:14-15; For sin shall not
be your master, because you are not under law, but under
uses of the law:
believe that most churches that demand "law"
do so abusively and for control. They see the law
as a way to "make people act right" forgetting
that when one is a Christian acting right is the
responsibility of the holy spirit. If a person is not a
Christian, we are not to demand they follow any rules.
Here are three factors I believe most churches use the
law for, and biblical support for a very different point
As an external discipline, necessary to restrain those
who are not saved (and in some cases, those who are
saved, because of their remaining temptation to sin).
first problem with this idea is that it is not our place
to demand those outside the church act a certain way
because, they are "outside" the church.
One of the biggest problems we seem to have as
Christians is the idea that all must follow what we
believe is right. Then, we force them to live by our
"rules." However, if we keep scripture in
mind we are reminded that, "I'm not responsible for
what the outsiders do." But, don't we have some
responsibility for those within our community of
believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to
decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line,
and if necessary, clean house (1 Corinthians 5:12-13).
We also need to remember that no one is
"saved" via the law. The law does not
lead to salvation, "For we maintain that a man is
justified by faith apart from observing the law." (Romans
3:28). In fact, I believe that the law keeps
us from salvation, stops people from wanting to know
about Christ and stops us from learning how we are to be
in Christ. If you look at Galatians 3:19, I
think you will see what I mean, " The purpose of
the law was to keep a sinful people in the way of
salvation until Christ (the descendant) came, inheriting
the promises and distributing them to us.
Obviously this law was not a firsthand encounter
with God. It was arranged by angelic messengers through
a middleman, Moses." I love the way Paul puts it in
his letter to the Romans, "For the kingdom of God
is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of
righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because
anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God
and approved by men." (Romans 14:16-18).
I wonder what to do with scripture like this,
" In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but
alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)."
As a standard that convicts us of sin, and makes us
realize our need of God's grace.
"standard" that convicts us of our sins is Christ
on the cross, and not the law. I think Peter said
it best (and in many places Paul and others have his
back on this), when he said, "He used his servant
body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid
of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became
your healing (1 Peter 2:24)." The law
cannot lead to grace; because by it's nature the law does
not have grace in it. In many cases, the law is
seen as "supervision" and
"controlling" and Paul thinks this is a very
bad thing to be under, " Now that faith has come,
we are no longer under the supervision of the law (Galatians
3:25)." Paul also adds in his letter to
the Hebrews, [Jesus Like Melchizedek] "If
perfection could have been attained through the
Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was
given to the people), why was there still need for
another priest to come—one in the order of
Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?" (Hebrews
As a standard for those who are saved, to help them in
living in accordance with God's will.
defines that standard? The pastor? The
elders? My "standard" is not the law.
"Now that faith has come, we are no longer under
the supervision of the law." (Galatians 3:25)
My standard is the life of Christ ("because the law
leads to death, and Christ to life. Once I was alive
apart from law, but when the commandment came, sin
sprang to life and I died; as Paul says in Romans 7:9).
One of the biggest problems facing churches today is the
fact that we are not teaching people to be
"Christ-like," but rather to be
"Moses-like". The truth is, to know who
Jesus is, and follow with an open heart. I love the way
Paul addresses the law in Romans, "But now a
righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made
known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify (Romans
shouldn't have any trouble understanding this friends,
for you know all the ins and outs of the law - how it
works and how its power touches only the living. For
instance, a wife is legally tied to her husband while he
lives, but if he dies, she's free. If she lives with
another man while her husband is living, she's obviously
considered an adulteress. But if he dies, she is quite
free to marry another man in good conscience, with no
is something like what has taken place with you.
When Christ died he took that entire
rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in
the tomb. Leaving
you free, to "marry" a resurrection life and
bear "offspring" of faith for God.
For as long as we lived that old way of life,
doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was
calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us
in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the
end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages,
stillbirths and divorce. But now that we're no longer
shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from
under all those oppressive regulations and fine print,
we're free to live a new life in the freedom of God (Romans
three areas lead us to some very interesting
conclusions. One, is that the heart of those who
desire that we follow the law, cheapen grace and seek
control and long to be "the answer-man" of the
faith. Also, that the law is truly over and the
standard of grace is the way we are to live in our
faith. While both of these points are points I
truly believe in, they are supported by a vast number of
all this still brings out one question. How is a person
to know the difference between right and wrong?
To some, this is not a very hard question. They
jump in with "the law". People, who
demand we follow the law, say that while we all have a
generalized idea of right and wrong. You say, "Who
says that stealing is wrong, while honoring your parents
is right?" They
answer, "the ten commandments, of course."
Yet, they forget that Jesus' answer is that we love God
with all our heart and soul, and others as ourselves.
When we do those, we do not steal, kill, harm, cheat,
abuse, or cause pain in any way. What this does,
is places our actions in relationship to Christ, and not
a list of rules. We must walk in the shadow of
Christ, and not in the rules
of those who demand law:
often wonder why pastoral leaders demand that people
follow "the law". Then I have to ask
myself about the hearts of pastors who do. You
see, if there is a "law" then there must also
be a "priest" to help interpret that law.
That is the way scripture demands the
relationship. There in lies the problem; power and
control. Most pastors do not see the grace of the
spirit, and all they can see is their "priestly
role" and demand people follow laws. But,
that is not what we are to be as pastors. They see
their role as being "the one who determines what
the law means and how it must be followed."
For example, if you want to hang out with buds and have
a beer and you ask your pastor if is all right to do so,
and he says, "No, you can not drink any alcohol and
you must not have friends that do." - what do you
do? Given the fact that there is no
"law" against drinking a beer, how do you
handle this? What we need to remember is that Paul
tells Timothy that there is only one priest (1
Timothy 2:5 that there's one God and only one,
and one Priest-Mediator between God and us--Jesus). Now,
this may not be a popular view if you are looking to
build a power base, but then again, we aren't.
Pastors that require that you follow a set of laws are
going far beyond their role as a pastor. Paul
shares that when he says, " These people, who are
attempting to force the ways of circumcision on you,
have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good
before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith
that shares Christ's suffering and death. All their talk
about the law is gas" (Galatians 6:12).
You see, to live by faith is to take courage and take
faithfulness to the work of God. It is not taking
the scriptures and turning them into a bunch of
"you can't do this" rules with no bite, and
only harm (Romans 6:14-15; "For sin shall
not be your master, because you are not under law, but
matter our hearts, our motives or our desires we need to
remember that the law is over (Romans 10:4 Christ
is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness
for everyone who believes). Even if we think we
are helping others with rules, we are not - we are
harming them. Paul shares a warning, one that I
will close with, concerning having people live in law.
As Paul says, " For when there is a change
of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the
law" (Hebrews 7:12).
The law is over, Christ came and grace wins.
me, I have no desire to sell my soul to the law. I
desire to live in Christ and know his love, peace and
grace. When we see law as an answer, we become
slaves to what is. Remember what Paul says, "
I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of
circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life
in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the
law (Galatians 5:3)."