The Soft Legalism of Practical Christian Living

I got this in an email from an old friend the other day, who is freshly learning to live loved. I really like the way he qorded this.

Once I began to understand what it means to live loved, I started seeing the gospel afresh in many places. I’m seeing how essential it is to keep the gospel in the foreground, to stay near the Cross and not slide into a soft legalism of “practical Christian living” that makes what I do the main thing rather than what Christ has done (and continues to do) for me.

That’s a mouthful!

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28 Comments
  1. joni menard January 7, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Wow Wayne you have met some really cool people. That was so beautifully stated and so wonderfully simple and divine.

  2. joni menard January 8, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Wow Wayne you have met some really cool people. That was so beautifully stated and so wonderfully simple and divine.

  3. Kat January 8, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Hello,
    I found you through a link on a friend’s blog. God’s richest blessings on your life!
    Kathleen Morgan

  4. Kat January 8, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Ohhh by the way forgot to say, I was linked to your “so u don’t want to go to church anymore” Interesting! You may find my “re-thinking church” blog interesting as well…
    http://snowyriver01.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/rethinking-church-can-i-get-an-amen
    Much love,
    Kathleen

  5. Kat January 8, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Hello,
    I found you through a link on a friend’s blog. God’s richest blessings on your life!
    Kathleen Morgan

  6. Kat January 8, 2010 at 3:41 am

    Ohhh by the way forgot to say, I was linked to your “so u don’t want to go to church anymore” Interesting! You may find my “re-thinking church” blog interesting as well…
    http://snowyriver01.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/rethinking-church-can-i-get-an-amen
    Much love,
    Kathleen

  7. Theresa January 8, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Wow. I JUST finished reading Romans 3 and this just echoes a verse that I underlined: Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade. (v. 28, The Message)

    I love that…the soft legalism of practical Christian living. It starts out so nice and rewarding until the the treadmill starts to pick up the pace.

    I don’t miss it.

  8. Fran January 8, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I would be interested in listening to a whole podcast devoted to the concept of soft legalism and ‘practical Christian living’.

  9. Sue January 8, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Boy that hit home. Unfortunately it seems as soon as a person accepts what Jesus did for us, we start piling on the rules and regulations about how you’re supposed to talk and act, we get so involved in ”doing” that He is left out of the relationship all together.

  10. Theresa January 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Wow. I JUST finished reading Romans 3 and this just echoes a verse that I underlined: Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade. (v. 28, The Message)

    I love that…the soft legalism of practical Christian living. It starts out so nice and rewarding until the the treadmill starts to pick up the pace.

    I don’t miss it.

  11. Fran January 8, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I would be interested in listening to a whole podcast devoted to the concept of soft legalism and ‘practical Christian living’.

  12. Sue January 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Boy that hit home. Unfortunately it seems as soon as a person accepts what Jesus did for us, we start piling on the rules and regulations about how you’re supposed to talk and act, we get so involved in ”doing” that He is left out of the relationship all together.

  13. Mike January 8, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I’m with Fran. I would be interested in a whole podcast devoted to soft legalism. Also, thanks for the scripture ref in Romans Theresa!

  14. Mike January 8, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I’m with Fran. I would be interested in a whole podcast devoted to soft legalism. Also, thanks for the scripture ref in Romans Theresa!

  15. David Grant January 9, 2010 at 8:06 am

    I would love to hear some comments about “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
    I understand not striving or performing to receive Yeshua’s love. But I’m needing some clarification on this as well, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24

  16. David Grant January 9, 2010 at 11:06 am

    I would love to hear some comments about “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
    I understand not striving or performing to receive Yeshua’s love. But I’m needing some clarification on this as well, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24

  17. Alyssa Arnold January 9, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    It’s such an interesting play on words, to”slide into” the soft legalism. So often the church mantra is about not backsliding into the worlds’ ways. In some ways…well alot of ways, it is far easier to just jump through all the hoops the church sets before me, gain approval and acceptance from people rather than following my heart and intuition and finding a true relationship with the Father.

  18. Alyssa Arnold January 10, 2010 at 12:36 am

    It’s such an interesting play on words, to”slide into” the soft legalism. So often the church mantra is about not backsliding into the worlds’ ways. In some ways…well alot of ways, it is far easier to just jump through all the hoops the church sets before me, gain approval and acceptance from people rather than following my heart and intuition and finding a true relationship with the Father.

  19. kent January 10, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Sometimes the more subtle forms of legalism are the most enslaving….because they are more difficult to recognize

  20. Alan Gray January 10, 2010 at 11:40 am

    In response to David Grant’s post, I wonder if you (David) could clarify a little more what your question is and how the verses posted relate to soft legalism (either positively or negitively). I hear several questions in your post but I am not sure which one or ones is more to your point.

    I love the verses you referenced. They both tie our presentation of “Christ in us” to the relationships we are in, or at least they admonish us to be more present and active in those relationships. Hebrews 10:24 is followed up with Hebrews 10:25 that more pointedly reminds us to physically stay and commit to these relationships for the very purpose of encouraging others.

    You can reply directly to me if you prefer. goofyfishing@gmail.com

  21. kent January 10, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Sometimes the more subtle forms of legalism are the most enslaving….because they are more difficult to recognize

  22. Alan Gray January 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    In response to David Grant’s post, I wonder if you (David) could clarify a little more what your question is and how the verses posted relate to soft legalism (either positively or negitively). I hear several questions in your post but I am not sure which one or ones is more to your point.

    I love the verses you referenced. They both tie our presentation of “Christ in us” to the relationships we are in, or at least they admonish us to be more present and active in those relationships. Hebrews 10:24 is followed up with Hebrews 10:25 that more pointedly reminds us to physically stay and commit to these relationships for the very purpose of encouraging others.

    You can reply directly to me if you prefer. goofyfishing@gmail.com

  23. David Grant January 11, 2010 at 2:43 am

    I listened to Wayne and Brad’s discussion on “soft legalism” so now I get the intent. My questions were actually from a different context than I find myself seeing on a number of fronts these days, especially in groups that are highly evangelistic. In order for them to make their point of someone needing Yeshua, they make statements like this, “what does it matter if a child has clean water if they don’t know Yeshua.” For them doing “good deeds” is now seen as soft legalism. No doubt some people do try to earn God’s favor through “good works” but I’m surprised how antagonistic some have become in even discussing doing something kind or beneficial for others. The other thing that has been around for sometime is that doing something good to someone means we now have the right to present the gospel to them. I see it as the modern day version of the crusades, instead of using the tip of a sword we now use good deeds to coerce people into at least listening to us. I’m rambling a bit here so I’ve got to stop myself.

  24. David Grant January 11, 2010 at 5:43 am

    I listened to Wayne and Brad’s discussion on “soft legalism” so now I get the intent. My questions were actually from a different context than I find myself seeing on a number of fronts these days, especially in groups that are highly evangelistic. In order for them to make their point of someone needing Yeshua, they make statements like this, “what does it matter if a child has clean water if they don’t know Yeshua.” For them doing “good deeds” is now seen as soft legalism. No doubt some people do try to earn God’s favor through “good works” but I’m surprised how antagonistic some have become in even discussing doing something kind or beneficial for others. The other thing that has been around for sometime is that doing something good to someone means we now have the right to present the gospel to them. I see it as the modern day version of the crusades, instead of using the tip of a sword we now use good deeds to coerce people into at least listening to us. I’m rambling a bit here so I’ve got to stop myself.

  25. Javier January 11, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Wow….amazing….

  26. Javier January 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Wow….amazing….

  27. Alan Gray January 11, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    David – There are certainly a lot of varied expressions of the religious mind. I have heard some surprising sequences in logic like what you are quoting myself. I think it represents only a segment somewhere in the middle of human development in the kingdom of god. Sometimes it is good to just help people state what you have quoted here. It hangs there and there is little left for you to say.

    Freedom from a religious mindset can take decades, if it occurs at all and I am pretty sure there is nothing can be said from the outside to lead people away from it. The very nature of a religious mindset is that of a closed and inaccessible mind. The only hope is that their hearts are not as closed, hardened and in accessible.

    I would wager that if the person are quoting about the clean water were to actually see some of their own money sent directly to a very specific child, with a name and a story and be able to see what an amazing effect it had on their life, any soft and accessible part of their heart would make way for a better understanding of the coexistence of physical needs and spiritual needs.

    My wife and I took the opportunity several years ago to become personal friends with one of the missionaries that visited a church we went to (when we were actually going to church) and developed an email relationship with them. After some time of asking specifically about the people they live with in South Africa, we asked them if we could send them some money specifically to give to anyone they wanted who had a physical need.

    I have many many emails of stories of real people and real families with real names who were one meal away from starvation that our missionary friend went out of his way to take to a grocery store and fill up an entire cart with food – something they had never in their life ever done before. The stories of a white man pushing a grocery cart for a black African in South Africa through a grocery store and the looks they got…

    Real stories and real names of real people would certainly cause these kinds of statements to evaporate back into the stratosphere from where they came.

    Do be patient with these people. They are as needy as the children that have no clean water.

    Good thoughts. Thanks

    Alan

  28. Alan Gray January 11, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    David – There are certainly a lot of varied expressions of the religious mind. I have heard some surprising sequences in logic like what you are quoting myself. I think it represents only a segment somewhere in the middle of human development in the kingdom of god. Sometimes it is good to just help people state what you have quoted here. It hangs there and there is little left for you to say.

    Freedom from a religious mindset can take decades, if it occurs at all and I am pretty sure there is nothing can be said from the outside to lead people away from it. The very nature of a religious mindset is that of a closed and inaccessible mind. The only hope is that their hearts are not as closed, hardened and in accessible.

    I would wager that if the person are quoting about the clean water were to actually see some of their own money sent directly to a very specific child, with a name and a story and be able to see what an amazing effect it had on their life, any soft and accessible part of their heart would make way for a better understanding of the coexistence of physical needs and spiritual needs.

    My wife and I took the opportunity several years ago to become personal friends with one of the missionaries that visited a church we went to (when we were actually going to church) and developed an email relationship with them. After some time of asking specifically about the people they live with in South Africa, we asked them if we could send them some money specifically to give to anyone they wanted who had a physical need.

    I have many many emails of stories of real people and real families with real names who were one meal away from starvation that our missionary friend went out of his way to take to a grocery store and fill up an entire cart with food – something they had never in their life ever done before. The stories of a white man pushing a grocery cart for a black African in South Africa through a grocery store and the looks they got…

    Real stories and real names of real people would certainly cause these kinds of statements to evaporate back into the stratosphere from where they came.

    Do be patient with these people. They are as needy as the children that have no clean water.

    Good thoughts. Thanks

    Alan

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