My pastor is doing a series over the next few months on the Paul’s letters to the Romans. Apparently, this single book has inspired many Christian leaders to do great things, including John Wesley and Martin Luther.
He started this week’s sermon on how the church during Paul’s day was divided up into two groups. One group was the Legalists who believed if they followed God’s law to the letter, they would be counted righteous and be saved.
The other group was the Fatalists. They believed there was no way they could possibly follow God’s law so they didn’t even bother to try.
Of course, they were both wrong. No one is perfect or can be perfect. But, does that mean we shouldn’t even try?
It amazes me how thousands of years later, humankind has changed very little. Don’t we still tend to fall into groups with those attitudes?
There are those who go to church on Sundays and follow the rules, who are convinced that they need to do nothing more. They have earned their salvation. Then there are those who believe they have done so much wrong in their lives that they can’t possibly get it right. They think that salvation will always be out of reach just because of their nature.
Both groups are as wrong today as they were in Paul’s day. Both groups discount the gift of grace. Since grace cannot be earned, the Legalists have it wrong. Since grace is an undeserved gift, the Fatalists have it wrong.
With that in mind, where does that leave those of us who just hope to stick close to Jesus on our journey here?
Hopefully, it just reminds us some truths we should all hold close. Grace is a gift freely given that we should give thanks for everyday. Our walk with Jesus is an everyday deal not a one time shot. We will wander. We will stumble. We sometimes get completely lost. Even so, we can be forgiven.
Our Christian faith is not a hampster wheel faith that calls us to check boxes and do certain tasks every single day or year, until we are called home. We aren’t saved by our own striving. We are saved by grace and grace alone.
We are saved by the cross.
There are times for many of us, where we may feel more closely aligned with one group or the other, Paul’s message reminds us not to fall into either trap and to stay focused on Jesus.
Perhaps you needed reminding today.
Have an awesome day!