On Sunday I talked about legalism. Legalists to be exact. For my context I described legalists as people who have to add to the work that Jesus did on the cross. Well meaning people who do love Jesus, but they might not trust him alone for their salvation.
I described them as people who required belief in Jesus + being circumcised, at least in Paul's day. Today instead of circumcision, they may add evangelism as in "How many people have you led to Christ this year?" Or they may add contribution as in "How much are you giving to the church?" They may add heritage as in "Were you raised in the church?" Or doctrine as in "When you were baptized, was the water running or still, deep or shallow, hot or cold?"
They are tired people because they never know if what they do is enough for God. So they keep on going, doing, being, so that somehow they can please the God they love.
Anyway, it can be a challenging bit of preaching that bit, and even a greater challenge to hear it in a helpful way.
While I had one or two adults thoughtfully mention it, the bigger response was from a number of kids, and teens who got it. They heard me clearly and really affirmed what I've been trying to do here.
That's why I love the teens. Yeah sometimes there is a bit of stuff to get around and sometimes they may not be used to responding as adults, but they're learning. They are who they are and mostly I can respect that, and them. They can smell a bad fart a mile away, and by fart I mean someone who is being inconsistent with them. I like that they prefer honesty generally, and that they know integrity.
Adults are not always the same. They have histories and plans and they have their own secrets that they often try to hide. But because they have their own secrets, or maybe just because they are better trained, they don't blurt out "What's that smell?" when the room is full of it.
But the kids do, and I like that.
Gives me a good deal of hope for the future, and if we let them into the church today, then it gives hope for now.