Post details: The Sign Said, Grace


Permalink 04:15:09 pm, Categories: By Pam, 1018 words   English (US)

The Sign Said, Grace

For many years I attended the same church. My first encounter was in reading an old sign on the street corner with the name, Grace and the simple statement, "A teaching pulpit and a singing choir". I liked that simple statement and being a child of Grace, I also liked the name on the sign and over the door. I was discouraged with the place God had placed me and having entered the pre-teen stage of my born again life, I was full of convictions and ideas of my own. I had lots of ideas of how a church should be and the one I was in, the one God put me in, wasn't it. My husband and I gathered up our convictions and our children and moved ourselves to the church with the sign outside that said, "Grace".


It seemed wonderful there. Every Sunday the Bible was preached and all the old hymns sung. Nothing too modern or fancy it seemed and our new convictions had found a home. It wasn't long before we found that the clothes we had always worn were too worldly and that women should not wear pants in the auditorium. I thought that a small price to pay to hear the Word of God and soon I had a new wardrobe and my husband and children also had new Sunday garb. I was careful not to wear too much makeup and keep my boys shirts tucked in. My husband traded his brightly printed shirts for the conservative black coat and tie. Though we are working class, on Sunday, we appeared as professionals and all our new church friends were so proud of how the church named, Grace had impacted our lives. It didn't occur to me to ask why denim was worldly and polyester was not.

My husband and I have never been passive Christians but fully involved in our faith and soon we were working part time, without pay, for the church named, Grace. It was then that I was introduced to the most holy garment of all for women, the culotte. I learned that this was modest even though when I wore it, people did nothing but stare. Soon all my blue jeans vanished and in their place this holy garment hung reminding me of my place.

I learned to practice separation through the implementation of many, many rules. These rules governed the people I associated with, the music I listened to, the things I read and watched, and took lots of concentration to manage but I persevered and won. Stiff and staid in my clothes and demeanor, I worked at home with my children faithfully, indoctrinating them according to the rules of the church with the sign outside that said, "Grace". My friends were all there and between keeping the rules and working for the church, there was no time for other friendships. Soon without my realizing it, the most important friendship of my life was also suffering for lack of attention. My close friendship with Jesus began to wane and soon became only acquaintance with loving memories of time spent together in days grown old. I and my husband were fully separated to the church with the sign outside that said, "Grace".

My husband and I were found faithful by the Pastor and Deacon board. We were found to be worthy to be leaders of the church named, "Grace". My husband became Deacon and the rules we had been so diligent to learn became ours to enforce. No matter that the Bible says Deacons are servants, in the church with the sign outside that said, "Grace" Deacons were leaders who also were Elders with so many governing duties that soon Deacon lost any definition of service. Emptied of true meaning, it really didn't take long for us to see that Deacon meant status and we had become a part of the hierarchy of the church named, "Grace".

It wasn't long until the pressure of false leadership and rule keeping began to grow thin and reveal a substance that can only be described as gross sin. Our lives began to crumble and when one crumbles, rules and status of leadership have absolutely no worth. It was then I began to question what we had done. As I crumbled, I turned to the scriptures and began to understand legalism and know through experience how legalism takes hold. It is not when we are babies in Jesus that legalists take advantage and take our eyes off the Lord. It is when we are old enough in Christ that we begin to become enamored with our own knowledge that puffs us up with self-righteousness that we become their prey. They feed the natural desire to control others as they cast their net of control over us. They strive to make us into their image, an image that we ourselves have imagined and desired. An image of God made over into the form of human desire for the appearance of holiness and human acceptance that reduces Grace to meaningless letters that hang outside on the sign over the door.

I no longer attend the church named, "Grace". Not all the people there are legalists. They are the one's who are there by God's choosing. They are not there as I was by the choosing of my own convictions. The Lord Jesus has finally moved me and put me back where He put me originally, in the church where He wants me, a church not of my own choosing but of His.

When I was young, I did as I willed but now that I am old, I know I am moved according to His purpose. My life is so much happier when I cooperate with that purpose. How thankful I am for the power of true Grace in my life that cannot be reduced to a sign hanging outside and over the door. The Grace of God is Jesus, my very dearest friend with Whom I now spend an abundance of quality time. This according to His goodness and none of my own.

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Comment from: lenbenhear [Member] ·
Yes. Grace is certainly not 'strict legalism.' It is walking in the light of His Love to us and thru us. People who get all hung-up with rules tend to run afoul of grace, liberty, and Love, - sometimes very severely and tragically so.

I'm glad you and your husband got out of the legalism-treadmill, Pam. But, of course, (as you know) separation from the world and its vanities is also an important precept of the victorious Christian life. ... only that it is not "enforced," ... it is WON by Love and maturity IN CHRIST.

Thanks for sharing this testimony.

Permalink 10/16/07 @ 19:24
Comment from: Pam [Member]

What I learned through all of that is that my separation in Christ is spiritual. I am not to separate as the Jews were commanded to do. I am to be in the world and not of it. My separation does not come from obey rules but by separating my self TO Jesus rather than from the world. He keeps me free of the world even as I dwell in its midst.

My stint of being caught in leagalism was short lived but I had to stay in the same church until I learned not to fold to peer pressure and not to replace the inner working of the Holy Spirit with what other Christians thought I should be.

The amazing thing is that God worked the circumstances of our lives to put us right back in the church that we left so long ago. It still is not a church I would choose by my personal standards but God is moving in our lives now with such healing grace and I know we are right where He wants us to be.

Permalink 10/16/07 @ 21:37

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