We talked last about the void of the Spirit in Christian circles. I told you about seminary and how the third person of the Trinity was hardly mentioned. If the HSp was mentioned then I wasn’t paying attention- the Spirit wasn’t really on my radar. Why do you need the Spirit when I have rules, the law, Spiritual disciplines? yikes! I was entrenched in legalism.
I was serving as a youth minster while in seminary. I remember at the end of one semester answering my pastors question. ‘Well we haven’t talked much. How was your semester?’ I was obviously relieved that the semester was over and to have 4 more classes complete. After a sigh and a quick moment to think I replied ‘my head is fuller but my heart is all shriveled up.’ The grueling nature of reading textbooks, projects, papers and exams was enough to not only make me feel exhausted but flat tired. The problem I realized was that amongst reading hundreds of pages about God and writing multiple pages about what the Bible says, I had not pursuited a relationship with God. I had fed my brain but not my heart. I had left the excitement of knowing God for a sterile book knowledge. Let’s bring this a little closer. My husband has been deployed several times overseas. With each deployment technology has improved as well as communication methods. Whatever the communication method, Skype, phone, texts, Facebook, nothing beats shoulder to shoulder time. There is no substitute for quality conversation, face-to-face. Legalism is the same way. I can place rules and regulations around knowing God. I can follow a book on the Christian disciplines. But what is fasting without the Spirit, starving yourself? What is worship if it’s only for knowledge? What is solitude or meditation without direction and purpose? What is seminary without the enlightenment by the Spirit? Dead. Jesus called the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, white washed tombs, cleaner of only the outside. They were tombs- dead on the inside. They only concerned themselves with appearing to follow God. They didn’t know God. They had not experienced his grace or the filling of the Holy Spirit. They had rules but lacked relationship- they lacked fellowship. Hmmm- we lack fellowship.
What a tragedy. What a waste of a semester. What a waste of life. Thankfully my life isn’t over just yet. Life is more than rules and regulations taught by men. I’ve lived there and it was pretty miserable. There was no life there, devoid of joy. And that seems obvious now. There is only life in the Spirit. The question remains- why do we still like legalism? Why do I still ere towards legalism when I can have far better-experience much more through a relationship with the Spirit? What’s it about keeping score-the tangible? Why do I feel better when I can check off my spiritual checklist? Why am I still finding satisfaction in rules? Why do I find contentment in rituals and regulations? Aghh…frustration….finding joy in the struggle- grace for the journey.