Getting carried away by one’s earnestness, one’s zeal, is easily done, especially as a young Christian, or as an older person new to Christ. It happens with those of us who should know better, too, on occasion: we bring a sledgehammer, name it ‘righteousness’ and use it to suppress, even to oppress, those whom we should be reaching out to in love. We pretend that following Christ is about sticking to (our) particular set of rules, rather than recognising the freedom from sin that is a gift of Grace.
In ‘Longing for God’ the author writes:
‘…we too want to imitate Jesus… But imitation is a tricky thing. It easily becomes so superficial, so outward. It is easy to see this in the ‘disciples’ of our contemporary celebrity figures… we quickly fall into the same trap. We so want to be like Jesus and so desperately try to follow the way of Jesus that… we end up in some silly, superficial mimicry that has nothing to do with righteousness and peace and joy…’
~ Longing for God, Richard Foster & Gayle Beebe
(highlighting is my own)
I am also reminded of these words from the book of James, which I read last week:
‘Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God…
…You can’t pick and choose in these things, specialising in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “Don’t murder.” If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder?
…Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.’
James 2:5-13, The Message
(underlining is my own)