Many have left the Christian faith after being harshly judged for innocent or non-conforming behaviors. And many more will leave in the coming year.
Here's how to be part of the solution, not the problem: Don't make it more difficult to be a Christian than it already is.
Some things in the Bible are specifically commanded or prohibited, but everything else is permissible—although it still may not be beneficial.
Where many of us get into trouble is to judge as disobedience and sin something Jesus does not. What, then, makes someone a sinner? Can a heavy smoker really be a Christian? How about disagreeing with your views on fiscal or social policy? What about someone who rarely reads the Bible?
The essence of "legalism" is to make a requirement out of anything that Jesus did not. To be "legalistic" is to turn our man-made traditions, rules or regulations into a test of someone's spirituality. It's to "add" to the gospel. It could be something risky like drinking. But it could also be something sacred like the spiritual disciplines that we hold dear.
You may not care for someone's lifestyle, mode of dress or music, but that doesn't necessarily make it sinful. Of course it might be, but only if Jesus said so.
Here's how we can make sure we're on the right track in 2015:
- Let's care more about people's hearts than their behavior.
- Let care more about helping people love God than obeying our rules.
- Let's care more about showing grace and mercy than pointing out what we don't like.
Easier said than done, but it may be just the thing that restores someone's faith in 2015—someone who might have otherwise walked away.
Patrick Morley's mission is to help men grow as disciples and disciple makers—starting at home. In 1991 he founded Man in the Mirror, which consults with churches in all 50 states to help them more effectively disciple their men. He teaches a weekly men's Bible study to 10,000 men and is the best-selling author of 20 books, including The Man in the Mirror. Learn more at maninthemirror.org and patrickmorley.com.
For the original article, visit churchleaders.com.
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