As I’m spending a few months preaching verse-by-verse through Galatians, I’ve kept a running list of contrasts in my journal. Here’s the latest list:
- God’s Laws & Your Conscience.God’s laws are for everyone. Your conscience is for you. Everyone should abide by God’s laws. Only you should abide by your conscience. When you bind other people by your conscience, you are adding to God’s laws and becoming a legalist.
- Closed Hand & Open Hand.There are closed-handed issues that all Christians must hold on to. There are innumerable open-handed issues that God’s people can and do disagree on. Rebellious liberals put too much emphasis in the open hand. Religious legalists put too much emphasis in the closed hand.
- Message & Messengers.The message of Christianity never changes, but the messengers do. God speaks the same truth through different personalities to reach different people. This is why the New Testament has so many different authors with different language, style, and tone communicating the exact same gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Gospel & Culture.The gospel is perfect, comes down from God, and never changes. Culture is imperfect, comes up from human beings, and is always changing. When something in your culture conflicts with the gospel, your culture needs to change and not the gospel.
- Principles & Methods.God has timeless principles that we obey with many methods. From the songs we sing in church, to the way we educate our kids, and the translation of Bible we read, there are often many methods by which to obey God’s principle. Legalism happens when we confuse principle and method and say that our method is the only way to be faithful to God’s principle.
- Cousins & Twins. Churches and Christians should be cousins and not twins. Cousins have a family resemblance, but they don’t all look, act, dress, and sound alike. When a Christian group looks like a bunch of twins you can guess that a legalist is around somewhere.
- Teach & Tolerate. Culture in any church or Christian community is a combination of what you teach and tolerate. You can teach grace all day but if you tolerate law-based people, they will change the culture and nullify grace.
Do any of these trouble or offend you? Why?