Historically, religion has always been based around a works-based philosophy. Yes, even Christianity, which supposedly stands apart from every other religion due to its grace-based foundation, easily slips into a works-based philosophy disguised as the former. It takes “you reap what you sow”” to preposterous lengths.
Jesus paid it all . . . BUT . . .
For some reason, many assume that our sowing of faith allows us to reap grace even though grace requires nothing beyond the giving. Granted, we may miss the benefits of grace apart from faith, but God never intended to cast us away when some metaphysical clock hits zero.
Christianity has long been understood as the younger brother of Judaism. Being of the same heritage, it makes sense that the two would have many commonalities. The most obvious of such has to do with The Ten Commandments.
Long, long ago, after Israel was finally freed from her slavery in Egypt, she made a covenant with God that was based on a set of Laws which required her to abide by a certain standard. Although this standard was and is positive, in and of itself — seeing how there is nothing wrong with the original commandments that she was given — those commandments gradually grew from ten liberating truths to hundreds of unmanageable burdens; it became something that brought Israel right back under the harsh task-master from which she was delivered.
The original Ten Commandments were basic. Much like love, sin could be avoided if they rested in the basics; rather than struggling with the dos . . . or shall I say, the “do nots.”
Jesus stated that out of the Ten Commandments, two were of the utmost importance: to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we would but focus our attention primarily on those commandments, there would be no need to worry about sinning against God or man.
Works-based religion takes our focus off of Christ and places it on ourselves. We becomes so obsessed with not doing this or that that we forget about Christ and his triumph. We forget to rest in him as we weep and gnash our teeth in works-based religion.
Jesus came not to compile the religious do’s and don’ts, but to demolish our carnal paradigm of God. He came not to grind the Law into our souls, but to reveal that the Law was designed to point out our need of him and, ultimately, to write his law on our hearts. We need Christ; not to help us keep this law or that one, but to help us understand that the Law is good news in him. Outside of Christ it is a curse. Yet in him, it is his commitment tous.
On one glorious day, all the world will have no other god but God; we will not steal, neither will we covet; we will not kill, neither will we commit adultery; we will simply love and everything else will fall into its rightful place.
Our sinful condition must be treated through a proper perspective of the disease itself; it must be cured rather than quarantined. Would the Lover of our souls settle for anything less?