Don't Be April Fooled by Legalism
A few years ago, Twitter offered users the option to upgrade their accounts to a “Premium version.” For five dollars a month, Premium Twitter users could have access to all the vowels in the English alphabet. Sounds crazy, right? But as I started scrolling through the feed, I looked at the date on my computer – APRIL FIRST. And I realized I’d been April Fooled by Twitter. Twitter’s upgrade was just a funny joke, but I know that there are lots of ways we can actually fool ourselves into thinking we need to upgrade our relationship with Christ by buying the “legalism package.”
All Christians would agree that we need a Savior and that our salvation comes by God’s grace alone. But once we get past that initial mercy, some of us slip into the idea that we need to “maintain our salvation” by living under a rigorous code. We buy into the idea that our continuing in salvation is dependent on what WE DO after accepting God’s grace. But when we do that, we’re kind of like that version of Twitter on April Fools Day – we’re communicating, but we’re not getting all the vowels. We’ve left behind what is crucial to our ongoing life in Christ, under his grace.
When you try and add to what Christ has already done, you start living your life without a crucial part of the Gospel. In English, it’s impossible to write most words without using a vowel. God’s grace is the same way – it’s impossible to live life without it. But unlike the Twitter twist, an upgrade to that “premium grace” can’t be earned and doesn’t need to be paid for by our efforts. Christ offers his mercy to us freely for life. How we enter into the Christian life is how we continue: having faith in his grace for all things.
Our continuing life of obedience under his Lordship, living according to his teaching, flows out of that same “relationship of trust” that we began with. Our transformation into the likeness of Christ is a gift of the Holy Spirit received by faith. Our salvation and deepening trust and living communion with God come with freely given, lifetime, upgrades; it’s all part of the full package. So this April Fools Day, keep your eyes open and your ears sharp – and don’t fall for that old legalism joke!
I’m Joseph Tkach, and I’m Speaking about LIFE.
Dr. Joseph Tkach, president of Grace Communion International, comments each week, giving a biblical perspective on how we live in the light of God's love. This article and short video first appeared on GCI - Speaking of Life.