A Spiritual Secret
Date Published: 06 / 2 / 2022 |
"So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God."
Romans 14:10 (NLT)
"So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil."
Romans 14:16 (ESV)
"You may believe that there's nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don't feel guilty doing something they have decided is right."
Romans 14:22 (NLT)
I have a spiritual secret. Well, actually it’s an open secret found in several places in the Bible, but in my estimation most Christians either don’t know about it, ignore it, or push back strongly on it.
Here it is in the negative form:
“Don’t spiritualize your preferences and personality.”
Another way to say it is:
“My subjective experiences and opinions are not universal truths”
A positive way to say it is:
“I am who I am and God created me unique. I do not need to be what everyone expects of me. I do not need to be “like” others, and I don’t feel the need for everyone to hold my preferences and opinions. I need to be the Christlike version of myself and rejoice that God has billions of images (humans) on this earth that are each unique.”
This whole conversation comes down to how you see “law and grace.” By law, I mean Commands of God. But we all know people sneak their own (little L) laws in between, under and on top of God's laws. These “little L” laws are not binding, but rather random human opinions.
Because most Christians know very little of the Bible as a whole they are often ready to go along and even judge others on a “little L” human law, which is only a perspective or opinion, but they hold it over themselves and you. If you want to be a blessing to the people around you, make sure that the “big L” laws (what’s in the Bible) are what we pay attention to and we give a ton of grace where people fall short of “big” and “little L” laws. Here is an example of these two versions of law:
Biblical Concept: Christian Community
"Big L” Law: God commands us to be a part of a church.
Here are three versions of “little L” laws related to this "big "L" law that I saw in the three previous churches I was a part of, but they are common in all churches including ours:
1.) 30 year old Christians who talk a lot about being “in community” and are willing to hang out six nights a week - but avoid their marriage and kids, and never take any responsibility in the church and never give money to the church. Their “little L” law is that being in community all the time is the authentic interpretation of God’s command to be a part of a church, but they are missing the fact that the way they see it is influenced by their age, stage of life and personality and is not based on Scripture.
2.) A 71 year old widow who hasn’t hardly missed a Sunday in 32 years who talks about the good old days when things were done right - but avoids the younger parts of the church, never serves and sees her giving as giving her “rights.” Her “little L” law is that the way things used to be is the right way to be a part of a church.
3.) 45 year old parents of teens who are exhausted by a midlife crisis, have their hands full with teens, health problems and the realities of expenses. They come to church 2 maybe 3 times a month and rarely pop in to extra activities. They talk about being Christian’s who are committed to Christ and they read their Bibles everyday and pray - but take every opportunity possible to miss church and they give and serve in the same sporadic patterns. Their “little L” law is that being a part of a church should only be convenient with time and money and never take priority over preferences or hobbies.
Who is right and who is wrong in these scenarios? Everyone is both. They want church in their own way and judge others in their way. Each takes responsibility and each shirks responsibility. Here are other examples of how people may spiritualize their personality or preferences:
"I feel the Spirit in this song, but not that one." "I can only worship God in this style and those styles don’t please God." Or "I am unwilling to worship the God who is worthy outside of my preferred style and comfort." (Are we even talking about God at this point?)
One says “discipline and structure” is key and the other practices free range parenting.
One pushes the boundaries with alcohol, while the other feels secretly smug about not drinking.
One eats only kale and protein shakes, the other eats only fries and ramen. One works out six days a week and secretly judges “rounder folks,” the other eats three big meals and sugary snacks all day and is making excuses about why they can never exercise.
Introvert vs. extrovert, smiley vs. somber, people who like small talk and idle chit chat vs. people who are ready to process any deep issue in inappropriate spaces, people who go to parties to sit in the corner and leave asap, free bird hippie Christian who is always saying “God told Me!” vs. Mr. Structure who memorizes books of the bible and reads old dead guys and is kind of a jerk.
I think you get the idea. Unless your opinion is in the Bible, it is an opinion and not God’s Law.
When it comes to God’s Law we all need grace.
Like an insane amount of grace. Can we be graceful with others when they break our “little L” laws? I want to see pervasive grace dominate every aspect of our church. Christianity is not here to prop up our preferences or our personality. Christianity counter-forms us by grace to become the most Christlike version of ourselves.
The movement of the Spirit is not subject to your preferences and personality, but your old nature is. The Spirit of God moves above and permeates all the mess of human opinion and somehow we are here together with very different personalities and preferences worshiping Jesus, agreeing on Jesus. All Souls is not about conformity, but about counter formation in Christ.
I hope this concept and conversation frees us all to not take our “little L” laws so seriously and seek to be gracious and understanding with other’s “little L” laws, too. All this for the sake of Christ that we’d be dominated by grace as a church.
Grace and peace,