At a dinner party Winston Churchill says to his dinner companion, “Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?”
The woman responds, “My goodness, Mr. Churchill. I suppose I would.”
Churchill replies, “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?”
She answers, “Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?”
Churchill answers, “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.”
Okay, let’s tell a similar story but with a completely different setting: church.
My recent post, about a pastor looking up in tears and saying, “I had no idea!”, set off a firestorm of debate and had over 55,000 shares!
Well, let’s imagine another conversation with a pastor. This time between a visitor and the pastor at church…
“Do you welcome people here who are remarried?” “Of course.”
“How about interracial couples?” “Why… yes.”
“People who sometimes struggle with drinking?” “Of course – we’re not perfect here.”
“How about people who are overweight, or who don’t wear head coverings, or who do wear mixed fabrics?” “Don’t be silly, of course we do.”
“That’s so good to hear, because I’d like to bring my son — he’s gay.”
Variations on this talk occur in countless churches, homes, family gatherings, communities, and political parties, regularly, all over the map.
Sometimes only silently conveyed.
You may claim to be all about love and grace, but if you are deciding which people can come in, which people can serve, which people can marry, then you’re legalistic. Why is that important? Because legalism means adherence to the law for moral approval. It’s approval earned rather than given, a result of works instead of grace, a payment instead of a gift.
a. the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works.
b. the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.
Legalism leads to bondage and spiritual death. Love and grace leads to life.
If you are deciding who can be part of church, or who is warmly welcomed in church, and not looked at with subtle superiority — then you’re a legalist.
If you are behavior-focused, then you are a legalist.
And if you’re legalistic “only” on the gay issue, you’re a legalist – period. You’re just haggling over specifics.
It was the legalists of his day, Pharisees, who Jesus stood against and condemned – “You brood of vipers!” to be precise.
They are easy to spot today… law-focused, behavior-focused, shaming, non-affirming Christians.
Jesus tells us to be love-focused… love God and love your neighbor. It really is that simple.
Jesus was talking about life!
And by the way Pastor, if anyone ever asks if they can come to, and be welcome at your church, no matter who they are, the right answer is always, “Yes!”