Beware if religion asks you to take extreme measures to assure your salvation.
This post is part of the Five-Minute Friday quick write hosted by Kate Moutang. Join us each Thursday night on Twitter (#FMFParty) for fun and fellowship, then grab a pen and start writing when the prompt goes live!
Why Do You Do the Things You Do?
“Why do you always wear dresses?” one of the grade-school students asked a staff member.
Yes, why do you? I thought, curious to hear the staff member’s answer.
“Jesus wants us to be modest,” she answered, her face lighting with anticipation at the opportunity to explain what she felt Jesus wants to a student. “In fact—”
“Huh,” the student said with a shrug before she turned away and ran to the playground.
Huh. I thought to myself. It’s been over a hundred years since anyone thought pants were immodest. I wondered why the staff member also didn’t keep her head covered in church. Paul made that suggestion two thousand years ago.
I didn’t feel comfortable having a conversation with the young woman in question right then, but her ‘Jesus wants us to be modest’ words made me think about other extreme measures people take in the name of religion.
Unfortunately, churches often conflate religion with relationship. They teach believers how to follow a set of (man-made) standards instead of the example of Jesus.
We Don’t Have to Go to Extreme Measures
Christians throughout the centuries have fallen into this trap. Self-flagellation, walking on your knees up the cathedral steps, only eating certain foods, vowing not to speak, abstaining from caffeine, or wearing hair-cloth garments top the list.
As if those extreme measures can somehow make the Creator of the Universe look at us as holy. Churches preach ‘Only Jesus saves’ from the pulpit and then try to enforce their unique agenda in the lobby and the Bible classes.
I find myself doing the same thing at times, too. If I dress a certain way, act a certain way, and refrain from certain activities, I think God will accept me. As if I can gussy up my stinking, sin-filled carcass in a way that looks good and smells good to God.
I forget (maybe I overlook because I lean towards Type-A) that Jesus took extreme measures, so I don’t have to. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory. All sin stinks—whether it’s adultery or addiction to Downton Abbey, murder or misleading someone.
We can’t dress sin in a fur coat and fix it on our own.We can't dress sin up in a fur coat and fix it on our own. #fmfparty #onlyJesus Click To Tweet
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9 NIV
As we enter the season where we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us relax and consider the ways Jesus’ sacrifice can change our lives.