Secular Legalism

So, to continue my analysis of where I’ve been, the day after I wrote the journal entry I posted yesterday I got up early — about twenty minutes to 7 and went into the office, got focused about 7:20am  and worked for 45 minutes. Then I went to Wikipedia to find out about the Year of Jubilee and from there began reading Chuck Norris’s website. There was a link to it. Apparently he has a “Friend of the Jews Man of the Year” Award, and that’s what caught my eye. It had nothing to do with anything I was doing, but I’ve been a Chuck Norris fan for decades — used to watch all his movies, and even Walker, Texas Ranger until it got too cornball to watch.

Ahem. So. I got distracted. Most likely because though I read through all my notes and cards, I ended up more confused than ever. All I seemed to do was generate more questions and arrays of possible answers, as I detailed in an earlier blog post. That’s really okay, and really pretty much the way it always is when I’m writing, but I tend to forget that. Instead of waiting patiently for things to open up, I get agitated and start blaming myself. Instead of relying wholly and moment by moment on God, it becomes  my responsibility to wrestle all  this stuff into order and come up with a solution. And because I’m spending my time on that and getting nowhere, home duties are undone and now I can condemn myself for those as well.

It’s all a big… test? No, more of an obstacle I think. God’s withholding progress for His reasons, which are good and are not all about me,. But the withholding is also a form of training.  To remind me to see all deviations from what I had planned or hoped as coming directly from God’s hand, reminding me that it’s not My plan or my kingdom but His. That He is God, not me. I’m the servant. I’m reliant on Him.

And it’s when I have to wait that I forget that. (okay, I probably forget that even faster when I don’t have to wait). I think I’m not reliant on Him, but that He’s relying on me to do my part. (yuck!) He is not relying on me. He’s either doing this book or He’s not and I must await his direction. Patiently, without agitation, anxiety or self-flagellation, fully confident He has all under control. Including me. It will come when He’s decreed and all my thrashing and turmoil and self-condemnation won’t change it.

Recently in Bible Class we were warned against the cosmic systems’ attempts to insert legalism into our lives/souls. Satan’s prowling about like a lion, looking for someone to devour in this way. Legalism is where you want to do it your way. You have your own plan and you’re going to follow that. I would say there’s a lot of legalism and religious tendencies in all of us that He has to reveal and strip away. This whole fixation I have on working and accomplishing, not wasting my time, on making the right choices, being disciplined… plus the cloud of frustration and guilt that comes over me as a result of it all… It’s disgusting. It’s debilitating. It’s certainly not freedom. I believe it’s secular legalism… It’s not God I’m really striving to serve, it’s my idea of what is “right.” Working and accomplishing and not wasting my time and making right choices, being disciplined all seem right. But they’re mostly about me. And they’re very much about slavery.

Here’s a quote from a class from several months ago that I recently found: 

Unrealistic expectations toward self invariably produce frustrations that distract us from the word and destroy the true focus of the Christian life: occupation with Jesus Christ, NOT self.

And another. 

Never put yourself into a position where you feel you have responsibility and accountability toward man.

And “man” includes self. I do this all the time. I make myself responsible and accountable to my self. My goals. My standards. And half the time those goals and standards are ridiculous…

So how do I get out of this? I asked the Lord. Do I just have to wait for you to do the work?

Yes. But I believe He has been doing it.

And this post is already way longer than I’d anticipated, so I’ll save the first of the two articles He led me to for tomorrow…

0 thoughts on “Secular Legalism

  1. william blanton

    Dear Karen:

    A very dear friend of mine, the Pastor of a church in north county San Diego, and wonderful piano player now that I think of Him, with a very sharp mind, described to me one day while we were playing Chess (and just beating the starch out of me) a very good system for the detecting the “Legalistic Dungun” in one’s life; and he said this:

    “William . . . you appear to be suffering from what I like to call “Iam’s disease” But not to worry, it’s really not all that difficult to cure”

    At first, being unsure of exactly what on earth is “Iam’s disease” and being at a disadvantage, I asked him rather pointedly: What on earth is “Iam’s Disease”??? He just laughed, only to further my frustration, and then looked at me with piercing eyes; and said:

    “Relax old chum . . . it’s just a funny way to look at the rather nasty problem of legalisms, or, better yet, “pre-occupation with yourself.”

    He then instructed me to go home and review my journaling and to start counting the “I” the “my” and the “Ives” and all of the personal references in my writings and that I’d know if the disease had somehow slipped into the life. Needless to say it was shocking to find that on one page alone there were over 60 personal references; clearly there was an infection that needed to be cured.

    Pre-occupation with self is just that, Karen; rather we sprinkle in a schosh of self- righteousness (legalism) or self-pity (arrogance) along with it to boot, is really of no consequence at all; or anything else that is on the “list” of right and wrong. Yesterday while walking the dog and reviewing the lesson from the day before, Robert, rather pointedly in His manor said this, and it struck me as often he does . . . right between the eyes:

    “If there is one church where the people in the pews should know right from wrong it is you!!!”

    Yep . . . He’s right again, blast it all. . . .

    See you . . .

  2. Rachelle Sperling

    It’s not God I’m really striving to serve, it’s my idea of what is “right.” Working and accomplishing and not wasting my time and making right choices, being disciplined all seem right. But they’re mostly about me. And they’re very much about slavery.

    True and I needed to be reminded of that today. Thanks!


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