Better Than Rules (Cornerstone)
Sep 3, 2017 - Rev Paul Rasmussen
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- Why do you think Christians put such a high emphasis on being good rather than being authentic?
- According to research done by David Kinnaman and the Barna Group, “Only 34% of young outsiders (non-Christians) believe that Christians genuinely care about them. But among Christians, 64% said outsiders would perceive them as genuine. Why do you think there is such a huge gap?
- Reflect on the following quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer as it applies to the notion that Christians are judgmental: “Nothing that we despise in [another person] is entirely absent from ourselves. We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or don’t do, and more in light of what they suffer.” How might we approach those outside of faith more compassionately, especially when we don’t agree with their choices?
- What if the starting place of our faith was not compliance to rules but rather grace?
Do you ever worry you may not be getting it right as a Christian? Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you try you don’t seem to measure up? Or maybe you’ve thought, “Well, I may not be as good as Mother Theresa, but at least I’m not as bad as …” Feelings of inadequacy tend to rise up in us when we see Christianity as a rules-based system where the primary goal is to do the best you can and not screw up. But is this really what Jesus had in mind when he called people to follow him?
On Sunday, Rev. Paul Rasmussen continued our Identity Crisis series by examining the church’s tendency to boil Christianity down to a rules-based system of morality. The unintended result of believing we have to work to earn God’s love is that we end up using Christian legalism to exclude others. According to the study Unchristian there are many who view Christians as judgmental because of this posture. The Book of Romans challenges this notion when it says, “So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2).”
This radical verse reminds us it is the grace of God through the work of Jesus that leads us to salvation. While good performance may get us good grades in school and lead us to success in our profession, it cannot earn us God’s love or keep us in good standing with God. Listen to Paul’s full message here to dive further into this conversation on how the grace of God toward us impacts our posture toward others.
In your first 15 minutes of the day, read Luke 15:11-32. In these verses Jesus tells a story of two brothers. Many people have titled the story, “The Parable of the Lost (or Prodigal) Son.” While many focus on the younger brother, consider both sons interactions with their father. Each of the brothers ends up misunderstanding their father’s love for them. Reflect on the ways you’ve misunderstood God’s love for you – are you tempted to believe you’ll never be good enough to receive acceptance or that you’ve earned God’s favor? What might it look like for you to believe God’s love is not based on your performance this week?