Our most recent LifeNote spoke of our various relationships. That got me thinking more about each and I decided to cover each separately, starting with this post. In the meantime, Pastor Greg Laurie wrote a post titled “Do-It-Yourself Divinity”, some time ago. In the post he cited an article that saw Americans customizing their faith to the point that it was more like 310 million religions instead of one Christianity. So, if you missed Pastor Greg’s post at WND Commentary, it can be found here: http://bit.ly/xHYvk9. We’re going to touch on it today, as we continue in this series.
The last time, I mentioned three relationships. The first of those is connecting with God. We ‘ll get into that. But the reason I mentioned Pastor Laurie’s post is because it talks about people customizing their faith to suit their own preferences. A little Bahai, a little Catholic ritual, some Pentecostal fervor and tongues, maybe a dash of eastern mysticism, mix them all together to suit myself. There are guidelines for designer clothes, designer cars, designer watches, etc. But Christianity is made up of absolutes to get to God, not guidelines. I have no problem with outward trappings if they help us better get in touch with God. We can even go to one of the more fundamental evangelical churches and find that the way things are done and their order varies very little from service to service. Ceremony. When the ceremony and our personal preferences replace God and what He has told us, then I have an issue with it.
If you recall, along with the three steps, I mentioned that the order and frequency each comes into play is unique to each of us. That’s great because God made us to be individuals. But that’s also where the pitfall lies. Think about the evolutionary process that led to the ten commandments and beyond. Israel was almost decently following God. I’ll explain the “almost decently” in a moment. Outwardly doing well, they determined that it was best knowing God’s thoughts on various aspects of behavior. They asked God for laws to follow. Because they were certain they could follow God’s law in their flesh. This wasn’t something God intended. But He did what they asked and gave them the ten commandments. I believe He did it to show them that following God in the flesh wouldn’t work. But, when we leave God out of the equation, we can be a little dense, sometimes.
I said the Israelites were following God “almost decently”. The reason I expressed it that way is that there were already the seeds of the idea that they didn’t need God’s help in following and obeying God, when they asked for the laws. And picture with me, if you will, the process of expanding ten commandments to over six hundred religious laws.
I’m imagining, first of all, the people looking at the simplicity of the original commandments and someone discovers that one or more of them conflicts with their own pet forms of behavior. Uh oh! Let’s make an exception. And while we’re at it, let’s add something in its place that we can do. Then, a second group made the number of laws explode because they realized, “I can’t obey these correctly.” So, to counterbalance their lack of ability to follow ten simple edicts, somewhere deep in their subconscious, they decided that if they had enough laws and obeyed some percentage they determined was sufficient, they’d then still be OK with God. But God never said that. And the third group. Those had actually deluded themselves into believing that they were good enough to fully obey God’s law. And while they were at it, God wouldn’t mind if they tacked on a bunch more, just to show Him how truly good they were. Three types of people colluding with each other to modify and expand the laws that God gave them. In a sense, making themselves their own gods because they were now shaping God’s laws after their own image.
That’s the slippery slope we create when we add things to what God has said to us and given us. The ten commandments were created so that men could see that, by themselves, they couldn’t obey. Unfortunately, those same three types can still be found today. Some avoiding religion and creating secular rules of behavior. Some in other religions. And some can be found in Christianity. So, it’s important to understand what God expects of us, how He thinks of us, how we ought to think of ourselves and each other, the tools God has given us to make things easier and better. And, over the next several posts we’ll go into depth about the three steps in the last post.
How is God speaking to you about this subject?