Drawing lines in our lives can be a good thing. We draw the line when it comes to personal preferences, personal convictions or promises. It’s like, when people who like a thrill ride, but “draw the line” on bungee jumping, or skydiving. Sometimes, however, we often draw lines as a matter of legalism. The Pharisees were particularly fond of doing this.
One big thing about the Pharisees was that they had over 2000 rules on how to obey the Ten Commandments. Basically, they created and drew lines that the Father never did. At certain opportunity, Jesus challenged their doctrines and judgmental dictates. The Church has too many people, however, who have embraced the ministry of the Pharisee. We have drawn lines that were never designed by God. It is time we challenge the religious dictates.
God’s design has parameters – aka, He has drawn lines. When we step across them, there are most often consequences. However, those are His lines. We obey His lines according to His convictions, as we follow Him. But, what we do is make our own lines – moral lines, legalistic lines, selfish lines, lines that oppress and lines that offend. Then, if making up our own lines isn’t enough, we draw them for others.
The Pharisees were all about the Law. Today, the Church has been little different. We have come to the point where we want to impose our convictions up
on our neighbor. This was never what Jesus taught, or even suggested. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment…Mark 12,
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c]There is no commandment greater than these.”
We impose our convictions on others because we have stepped away from the main theme of love and the grace it comes with. Instead, we are too busy being Christians, intent on piety, legalism and a false sense of righteousness. We have made a religion out of what is supposed to be a relationship. In so doing, we draw our own lines.
There are groups of Christians – movements, if you will – who have added rules that have little or nothing to do with scripture. For example, there are those who have rules about…
Anyone who studies the Bible knows that sex was designed for the contexts of marriage. Fine. But, some folks put restrictions within the confines of married peoples’ sex – what positions are acceptable, frequency limited to procreation, lights off, the wife always being “available”. These are things left between the two people for whom God created sex for, not some rules created by people. The Bible says that the “marriage bed is undefiled”. Made up lines do not belong there.
Lengthen Your Hem, Dear
Some of us have drawn lines on how to dress. Sure, modesty is ideal. But, some have taken it to unnecessary points. Besides, it puts pressure and blame on women for what amounts to lack of self control on the part of men. Some congregations will even monitor visitors…one woman visits and her neckline is a little too low, one or more of the ladies will “lovingly” have a chat with her and maybe offer her a scarf to wear. Here is a way we draw a line someone else is not convicted about.
Wine and Strong Drink
Alcoholic beverages are hotly debated. Some Christians absolutely forbid drinking alcohol. As I read my Bible, I see warnings about excessive drinking, but nothing about drinking, itself. Otherwise, Jesus would not have turned the water into wine. I am not a drinker, but I do realize that is not a line to draw for anyone else.
I remember, back in the late 70’s or early 80’s, there was a guy who did “Expose’ on Rock and Roll”. Much of it was sensationalized bits and pieces of evidence in order to prove that rock music is a sin. In recent years, we have come to accept “contemporary Christian Music”. However, there are those who don’t accept that genre’, considering it “worldly”. These same people think that only the old hymns are acceptable. What is funny, when the old hymns were coming out as new, they were considered as “worldly” – for that matter, the beloved organ was considered a sinful instrument. There is nothing in scripture that suggests styles, or the correctness thereof. Once again, more lines drawn.
“But, scripture is clear…”
Actually, I find that more than half of the people who say that really don’t know their scriptures as well as they think. Oh, sure, they can pick out a chosen few in order to prove their point. But, most of the time, what they cite is often out of context. Or, they overlook the audience to whom God was speaking.
Whenever we see a “line drawn” in scripture, it was usually not for the common populace, but for the Israelites…or a specific person, family or community. Of course, in the New Testament, Christians and specific churches were being addressed. But, for some reason, there are those who want to legislate the rest of society to bend to “rules” that are meant for us. It seems we want to draw lines for everyone, and anyone who does not acknowledge these lines is considered impure, sinful, anti-Christ, unacceptable and should be badgered, belittled, berated, judged and/or shunned.
It is past time we stopped drawing the lines God never did. We need to seek Him and learn what it is to live in His love and grace and let Him shine through us. If any line is to be drawn, it should be this: If Jesus and His love are not at the center of it, it is not scriptural and should not be entertained.