1. strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, esp. to the letter rather than the spirit.
2. Theology - a. the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works; b. the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.
Over the past few months I've been thinking, praying and soul-searching about the body of Christ. My conclusion? The most well-meaning people who study the Bible and desire to imitate Christ can subject themselves and each other to strict guidelines on non-essential issues. What church you attend, whose tape set you use to discipline your children, whether you vaccinate or homeschool - these are all matters of preference not outlined in the Bible. Dictionary.reference.com calls "the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws rather than the spirit" legalism.
At first, it didn't bother me that we had adopted vs. getting pregnant, delivering with a midwife and breastfeeding; or that we'd chosen public school over homeschooling. It's actually freeing that God provided a different path for our family. What eventually disturbed me was how alike a group of believers can become and how differences within that group are judged. For instance, when I told someone that we registered our son for Kindergarten, the first question was "At X Christian school?" followed by "And you didn't want to homeschool?" I proceeded to defend our choice rather than replying "No, God just didn't lead us that way."
I can't judge my brothers and sisters because, if God had not chosen differently, we would be right there breastfeeding and homeschooling with them. And I have no problem with any of the preferences I mentioned. But it made me wonder why peer pressure has any place in the church. The danger to any of us, as I see it, is missing out on the blessing of God's grace and His call on us as individuals.
So I started to think of ways to encourage believers to truly love one another, to set aside differences, and to relish in the liberty we have in Christ. Thus, the "Spread Love Not Legalism" campaign was born.
If you would like to join me in the "Spread Love Not Legalism" campaign, simply leave your name and website/blog url or email address (starting with http://).
Also, if you have a blog or website, consider spreading the word by posting my graphic and link using the following code.
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage... For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! ~Galatians 5:1,13-15
"Happy would it be, if Christians, instead of biting and devouring one another on account of different opinions, would set themselves against sin in themselves, and in the places where they live." ~Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary (Galatians 5)