I feel it again...that stifling, caged, not-good-enough feeling I get when legalism is being heaped on me. I'm so grateful that I can recognize it now and don't need to live there anymore.
I wonder why we do this. Why do we insist on listing rules and taking away grace and replacing it with burden. Freedom is so beautiful, I think it must be painful for some to see. They are blinded by what they do not understand and respond harshly to the person who's reflecting it. Because they've not tasted it, they fear that no one should.
That's how legalism is packaged...all bundled up in neat little shoulds. You should do this, you should do that, and you, most certainly, should NOT do that. If you live a different life, free from the package that was presented to you, then, sadly, you have missed the mark. But don't worry, I am certain that some more "mature" member of the Body of Christ will be watching and will be more than willing to put you in your place.
I think that we, American Christians, have too much time on our hands. If we have time to nurse our petty offenses, to think of shoulds that even God missed, to put people in their rightful places, then we are missing out on the glory and the intent of the gospel.
There are some who feel that I am a sinner. They would be surprised to discover that I agree. As the t-shirt reads, "I am the wretch the song was talking about." I am a reprobate sinner completely without hope apart from Jesus Christ. The cell of bondage is my rightful home. Without Jesus, that is where I'd dwell. I did dwell there for many years, long after I met Him, even. I ventured out of my cell but not very far and for not very long before returning to my place of twisted comfort.
But, now I'm free. That freedom cost something...something precious, and, until I was willing to truly embrace the cross, a prisoner I remained. I will be attempting to repay that debt, without success, until the day I die.
And I will not be dragged back into the cell of bondage, even by well-meaning Christians who refuse to leave.