Why Did the Christian Cross the Road?

He didn’t.

And why didn’t he?  Because God told him not to, that’s why.  Too often tist seems to be the answer. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

When we were children our parents told us to stay out of the street, avoid all strangers and make sure we were home before dark. Of course, that’s because we were immature and unable to ascertain on our own what constituted safe and proper behavior.

As mature adults we (hopefully) can make those distinctions, but even so, we rarely adhere to the laws laid down by our parents.  Safer though it may be, what would life be like without ever crossing the street or meeting new people? Not to mention other ‘dangerous’ activities like mountain climbing, sky diving, eating raw oysters or even driving the family car.

Maybe legalism is a necessary part of the maturing process, not only when it comes to life in general but also as it pertains to matters of faith.  Although casting off the rules and regulations that govern our early childish lives results in a freedom that we would not willingly give up, it can be a very painful process.  We feel anxious when we realize that we no longer are having our hands held, that we must make decisions on our own and are now expected to act responsibly, without the reassuring rules that once spelled everything out – to the letter. The busy road of life can look pretty scary to us chickens.

Phil Yancey, in “Reaching for the Invisible God”,  suggests that one major downside to legalism, in our homes or in our faith, is that we tend to rebel against the authority who lays down the law; we invariably break the rules.  We also like to keep score, see how we are stacking up against others (or how they are stacking up against us).  St. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, puts it this way:

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules:  “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?  These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. (emphasis mine) Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

In the short run; rules, both familial and religious,seem to work.  For the long haul: rules don’t work.  At least not with those who want to enjoy mature, loving and honest relationships with their parents – and with their God.

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  1. #1 by Christian Beyer on September 7, 2009 - 7:09 pm

    No, I meant St. Paul, as in;

    “These (rules and laws) are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. ”

    From the above excerpt taken from Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

    But your point is a good one, as far as it pertains to many of the Mosaic ‘blue’ laws. There are still many laws that were laid down to promote harmony within the tribe(s) as well as promoting peace among the nations, charity to orphans and widows and hospitality to aliens – things that were apparently not first or second nature to the peoples of that time yet in many ways in accordance with God’s first commandment to love one another. Even the 10 Commandments are designed to promote peace, something that God would seem to desire yet something that, as Doulos said, is not what we work at naturally, at least not until our nature is closer to that of Christ’s.

  2. #2 by ambrosia on September 7, 2009 - 7:16 pm

    Okay–so why would God give rules that only pertained to about 600,000 people–rather than those which would apply to the whole world?

    Maybe God gave the sages, Confuscious, Moses, Hamurrabi, and others, the rules for all of humanity; and yet Paul says we were free from the law.

    Hmm. Sounds like quite a moral puzzle we have weaved, haven’t we.

  3. #3 by Christian Beyer on September 7, 2009 - 7:21 pm

    “Maybe God gave the sages, Confuscious, Moses, Hamurrabi, and others, the rules for all of humanity;”

    Definiteyly.

    ” and yet Paul says we were free from the law.”

    And we are, once we begin to do what is ‘right’ (unselfish) because it is what we WANT to do. Even though there are those times in which we fall short, we recognize our shortfalls yet still keep our eyes on the goal. This cannot happen unless we have a changed heart – a rebirth some might say – and one way this is accomplished is through an understanding of and interaction with Christ.

  4. #4 by logioetc. on September 8, 2009 - 6:49 pm

    Chris, you’re slipping, you seemed to have a foot on the gangplank of
    The Good Ship Orthodoxy.

    I thought they yelled “Man Overboard!” long ago.

    • #5 by Christian Beyer on September 8, 2009 - 9:01 pm

      Bruce, you must read between my lines. A good Protestant fundamentalist would have noticed that I said that ONE way this is accomplished is through Christ. I certainly can’t say that there are not others, but this way has worked for me. Nevertheless, I still prefer the waters of heterodoxy – don’t pull me back aboard just yet.

  5. #6 by Christian Beyer on September 8, 2009 - 9:02 pm

    BTW – I was listening to your chap Missler tonight. XM Radio has a religious channel that broadcasts more than the pablum on the local Christian stations (although it serves that up as well). I wasn’t too impressed.

  6. #7 by ambrosia on September 9, 2009 - 7:26 pm

    You and I are the only ones who may not be impressed.

    I remember some 28 years ago when Chuck Missler’s following started.

    The church had 2 meetings on a Monday night. I attended a study with a guy Jimmy Kempner, who was so down to earth it was funny (really) which was mostly teens and college-age folk, about 700-1000 or so folks.

    Missler was in the “Fellowship Hall” and he would pack that place to the gills, as I recall. By the time we had moved to Washington State (83-85) and returned, sheesh. He had gone pure big time.

    He really has some conspiracy theories, and although he is frequently correct, he never enters the studio without his Hyperbole Express Card.

    • #8 by Jimmy Kempner on September 10, 2009 - 2:40 am

      Saw a comment from an old Monday Night friend and thought I would say hi. Jimmy kempner

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