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Legalism Hits Home

(...continued from an email sent to a site visitor...) 

Your questions come at a particularly interesting time. Our church (Berean Baptist of Lilburn GA at ) is presently undergoing a new growth phase, a realization that we need to reach out beyond ourselves and get into the community. It's very easy for conservative Christians--especially the independent, fundamentalist types--to create modern monasteries where we gather to "hide from the world" and neglect the fact that Jesus told us to go and teach everywhere. Of course, this doesn't mean that the church just becomes "like everyone else"; Jesus was a prime example, crossing boundaries constantly to reach out to people where they were, and everyone He touched was radically changed.

If you're interested: listen to this sermon, "The Church's Role in Evangelism". The first 15 minutes are two testimonies about getting "out of our comfort zone" and reaching out to people whom a legalist would write off. This is precisely what these previous questions bring up--that legalism threatens to draw focus to mere conformity to rules and misses the point of the gospel.

Accusations of legalism precisely show the dangerous position that conservative Christians can get into; the focus is more on the rules which Christians hold for themselves versus the Gospel which changes lives.

The problem with our country--indeed, the world--is not Hollywood, music, movies, dancing, gambling, or even *gasp* shacking up, divorce, homosexuality, blah blah. The problem is the world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Christians are too busy "shooting their wounded" and acting as if churches are mere entertainment vehicles with a warm fuzzy sermonette. The church--rather, the Christians of the true church--should be a spiritual emergency room, first-responders in the very real spiritual warfare in the world around us, reaching out to show that there is hope, peace, and a relationship with Jesus Christ that changes you from the inside out.

People in the Real World have Real Problems with their relationships, alcohol, drugs, sexuality, and a myriad of other "not allowed at BJU" things. In your efforts to separate from the world's habits, don't forget there's a world that needs the Gospel. Don't hide behind your Baptist bunker and toss bricks with tracts attached.

OK, now I've gone from answering questions to preaching. I'll stop here. In my opinion, BJU has rules for their students to make an environment where it's easier to live Christ-like and learn the benefits of doing so. They're not out to outlaw sandals or movies... not yet, anyway... and neither are students expected to follow the dress code the rest of their lives!