Nit Picking & the Law

I was thinking how irritating Christians can be in their nitpicking, when I realized that I was guilty.

My thoughts were on the failed prophecy of Harold Camping and Family Radio that judgment day would begin May 21 with a tremendous earthquake sweeping across the globe. I wondered how the group could ignore Matt. 24: 36 where Jesus says no one knows the day or hour of His return, not even Him.

So, I checked out their website. Apparently, they had unlocked some Biblical Da Vinci code released in these last days and knew not only the day but the hour: 6 p.m. in each time zone.

If you are alive, you know this did not happen.

Now come the funsters, the pokemeisters, the hahaha told-you-soers. Atheists, heathens, God-haters, and Christians alike. Facebook was alive with photos of a new billboard to replace the now obsolete May 21 Judgment Day warnings. This one says: That was awkward. “No one knows the date or the hour…” Matt. 24:36.

Many of my Christian friends reposted photos of the new billboard and the “likes” popped like corn over a campfire.

This bothered me because I had read reports of how people who sincerely believed this prophecy gave up everything to hit the highways in emblazoned RVs just to warn complete strangers of imminent judgment. It bothered me, because, right or wrong, they do believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that He came to redeem mankind. That makes them my fellow Christians. And they were proclaiming Christ with boldness most will not muster.

So they were wrong on a date. I once thought all paths led to God, be it Buddha or Bahia.

Such ruminating led me down the rabbit trail to a pet peeve, recently aggravated by yet another super-spiritual Facebook re-posting exhorting anyone who believed in God to share as their status. You may have read these. I will only slightly exaggerating typical content: I love Jesus, yes I do! I love Jesus, how about you? If you believe in God, please re-post. Sadly, 97 percent of people will not repost this as their status. Jesus said if you deny Me before men, I will deny You before my Father.

They might add: If you don’t repost, you’ll go to Hell!

Such posts are nothing more than shallow self-righteous drivel, awash in condemnation, made worse by masquerading as devotion to Christ. The Jesus of the Bible looked at heart attitudes. He called thieving tax collectors out of trees and fisherman from their stink, and dismissed the super-spiritual status-conscious Pharisees as nothing but whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones (Matt. 23:27).

Do you imagine there is a book in heaven where all your Facebook postings are recorded? Oh, look, on May 20 she reposted Heather’s repost of Sarah’s repost of Jill’s repost of how much she loves Jesus. But on May 24, she complained about the weather, and on the 25th she hated her job and her boss was a jerk, and on the 28th the guy you cut her off in traffic deserves a flat tire before he gets home. Let’s hope Jesus is not keeping track.

A short primer on condemnation: It makes you feel bad. It uses manipulation to make you DO something, promising punishment if you don’t do as you are told. In the case of the post, you must do a particular thing or Jesus will deny you.

Condemnation is used to control behavior. It is used by people concerned with appearance.

In real, not virtual, life, this morphs into the extreme. My central Pennsylvania Amish friends must wear only one suspender, if they are male, hold their dresses together with straight pins, if they are female, and drive only a horse and buggy, if they want to be pleasing to the bishop and to God.

True Biblical righteousness has no roots in manipulation and control.

The Bible says Jesus alone is righteous. Not people who do certain things the right way.

Col. 2:23: 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.

Peeved with all this, I realized I was just as bad as the people snickering at the still-here Doomsayers. For I was finding fault.

Why, I thought, why do we all do this?

The answer is Law. We all know the Law, Christian or not. It is written into our DNA: there are rules for living, an instinctual moral code that even children understand. Do this, do that: be a good person. Do this, do that: you are a bad person.

Only recently did I come to even slightly understand what had always been for me a very dense Biblical passage: Romans 7. I understood clearly “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” in verse 18, but the part about dying to the law, in verse 4, and much else was murky. Somewhere around verse 7 and following, the dark veil fell and I could not see. I recall a prisoner reading that section in a jail Bible study, stabbing the page with her finger and exclaiming “Tell me that’s not deep!” Oh yeah, said the stoner girls, oh yeah, said I.

A little revelation on death helped it come clear.

Here then is my translation: We are born married to law. We can’t help but sin. No matter how hard we try, we keep sinning. The very fact we’re told not to do, makes us want to do! But Jesus offers a way out. A dead man gets a divorce from law. If you’ve died to your own self desires, then you can make a new contract, not with law and sin, but with Christ. Now, you don’t do anything to be good, you submit to Jesus.

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Paul writes in
Rom. 7:25.

I think the reason I never got that passage before was that I didn’t want to be a dead woman.

Most of us don’t, and so, we can’t help but live under the slavery of finding our own righteousness, whether by doing good or, as someone once said, by being good at being bad. We nitpick and point fingers, make fun of those who get it wrong, puff off clouds of condemnation to reinforce our superiority, and put on fancy coats to cover up what sniveling cowards we are at heart.

Fortunately, Christ has compassion on sniveling cowards, or at least those who acknowledge they need help. He called the thief of taxes, Zacchaeus, down from his tree (see Luke 19) and said I’m coming to your house! Zacchaeus died that day. He died to his desires for money. He gave it all back times four and threw in half of his possessions for the poor. He chose what Christ offered rather the riches of the world. You wouldn’t find him pointing fingers at another.

Dead men don’t point fingers. They know their own guilt. They know who set them free.

So begins Romans 8.









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1 Response to Nit Picking & the Law

  1. Kara says:

    Thanks for sharing those thoughts. I was feeling kind of weird about the whole thing, but at first I was joking around about the whole thing. It’s so true what you stated about the fact that we’re all sinners, and that we like to stay under law so that we can be in control of our own lives. Only God is perfect and only He is mighty to save. There is no room to really judge others, but to just love God with all of hearts and love our neighbor as ourselves. God bless!

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