Once upon a time there was a girl who grew up in a Christian home. She loved Jesus. At a very early age, she made a decision to receive Christ into her life. It was so early that she couldn’t really remember a time she wasn’t without Him.
At various times, she was a missionary kid, a preacher’s kid, and the daughter of a christian school principal. Her family was often in church. At home, the Bible and Biblical principles were discussed and taught…often.
When she was in 9th grade, her parents went to Costa Rica as missionaries again (they had been missionaries when she was very young). Since she couldn’t speak spanish and needed credits to graduate from high school, they sent her back to the US for high school to a boarding school that was quite legalistic. Her family was legalistic to some degree, but her new high school took it to a new level.
Discipling became a burden of rules, not a relationship
In the name of “discipling”, the students were instructed on many things they needed to do to be better christians. The girl loved Jesus. She wanted to do the right thing. She tried to be a good child of His.
She had her devotions daily, kept her room clean for the daily white glove inspections, tried to keep the rules despite the fact that there were so many it was hard to keep all of them. Some days, it was downright depressing. The christian life was supposed to be joyful but instead it seemed to be overwhelming and depressing.
The burden of trying to keep everyone happy was heavy. No matter what she did, nothing really worked. Add to that, there was always the feeling that GOD wasn’t happy with her either. She certainly wasn’t able to do all the things a good christian was supposed to do. How could He possibly be happy with her?
Maybe she wasn’t a believer
At one point in her senior year of high school, she felt she must not be a true christian, so she made a new profession of faith. But in looking back, she knew she wasn’t a new believer then. It was just guilt that caused her to feel that she wasn’t living up to GOD’s expectation of her. She was letting Him down!
Time went on. She finished high school, some Bible College and Nursing. She married and went overseas to Jamaica as a missionary. As she moved on with life, she realized that she understood a lot more about what she didn’t believe than about what she did believe. It was a lot easier for her to critique someone else’s beliefs than to state her own clearly and succictly.
What did she believe vs. what was she against?
But during those early years of marriage, she began to sort through her beliefs. She had memorized a lot of Scripture as a child, so it wasn’t based on nothing. There was a wealth of content that she could sort through…along with input from her husband who had been to seminary. He enjoyed discussing theology in the context of different views and why he believed the ones he did.
Learning what it meant to have real relationships was difficult
During their time in Jamaica, there was one teacher who was trying to help them learn how to become a close community as a faculty. It involved unlearning many things she had learned in her legalistic schools and home.
As time went on, they learned more and more about NOT needing to be perfect! About how our “perfection” is in Christ, not in our own behavior. And in the stunning, amazing, scandalous grace of Christ!
Learning about relationships helped her learn about the grace of GOD
As they got in the middle of working more and more with people in the pastorate, they realized how both they, the people in their churches and their children needed to know that they were sinners for sure, but GOD’s grace was more powerful than their sin!
Over time, watching people grow and change, watching their children grow up, watching changes as they took place over time, they realized how active GOD’s grace had been in their lives. No, not everything had gone well. But as they looked back, they saw how He had ministered so much grace to them over the years! There had been times when they had failed and GOD had forgiven and brought change.
He had helped them learn to love people who were initially unloveable. He had worked in the hearts of their children to give them a love for GOD. His grace was amazing. The more they looked, the more they saw it sparkling in their lives and in their church.
They are learning not only the lyrics, but they are learning to hear the music and the beat
This week, they heard a description they hadn’t heard before. It was said in reference to the difference between the Good Samaritan, who knew who his neighbor was and the Levite and priest who passed on the other side of the road! The distinction was made that they knew the orthodox answers. They knew the lyrics to the song. But the the Good Samaritan knew the music. Because he knew the music, it showed he knew both the music AND the words.
It’s a lot like the difference between those who know all the right answers to the questions vs. those who love people and know how to do relationships. They know how to live out the truth of the gospel.