Legalism: When Christians Forget Grace

I have really been struggling over the last few weeks with reaching out to some students that I care about that have been turned off to Christianity.  They have grown up in a Christian environment that was so overly religious that in the midst of the constant dos and don’ts of religion they miss what a relationship with Christ is all about.  All they have seen Christianity as being is a legalistic stick used by people to beat them into becoming a “good person.”  I think that this is an all to common picture that students tend to pick up from our churches.  This picture is totally unbiblical.  It is unbiblical in that Jesus calls us in the gospels to follow Him and to make disciples of all nations.  This is an invitation not into a world defined by dos and don’ts.  Jesus invites us on a journey driven by faith to discover who He is, who we are in Him, and who He is calling us to be.  I think we tend to miss the point of who is the one doing the action in this faith journey that we are on.  It is Jesus Christ who is the one who handles all of the big theological words that we like to use to describe our faith journey: our salvation, the process of our current sanctification, and our future glorification.  When we surrendered our lives to Jesus, we became passive beings on a faith journey with Him.  What we tend to do however is to want to take back parts of our lives especially with regards to our sanctification which is the process of us gradually looking more and more like Jesus.  It is so easy for us to become modern day pharisees who make a lot of rules and regulations to lead to personal self-achieved sanctification.  We then go one step further and try to apply our 10 Step Plan to Holiness to others and judge others for the blemishes in their lives.  This is the state that it is so easy for a church to get into.  This is something that people, especially students, can see straight through and are totally turned off by.  We need to come back to a biblical picture: we are all broken people who have been saved by the grace of Jesus, and He is the one who is putting the broken pieces of our lives back together.  We must remember that we have been shown much grace and to give grace to others.  The grace of Jesus as seen through His bride the church is what will draw a watching world to Him!