Keeping the list?

Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. (Philippians 3:8-9)

When someone embraces beliefs, they begin to 'embody' those beliefs. All their life seems to rotate around their beliefs. If we believe in the right stuff, what we 'embody' begins to affect others in a positive manner but embody the wrong stuff and the impact upon others can be quite negative. Beliefs matter, but we must take notice that there are a variety of beliefs laid out for us in scripture - some are worthy of our embrace, while we are clearly cautions to avoid others.

Early on in Old Testament writings, we observe warnings to not 'intertwine' ourselves with cultures or beliefs that elevate any other God than the One True God. All those idols and superstitious beliefs of the day were to be avoided. As we come along in scripture, we will note Israel embracing them (becoming intertwined in their culture and beliefs) actually made the people's hearts grow 'cold' toward God. The more they accepted the beliefs of the pagan lands, the colder their hearts grew toward God.

We will note that there were even examples of how we could choose the right 'religion' but miss the mark as it pertains to relationship with God. Embracing practices, such as recited prayers, following certain rules on certain days of the week, avoiding certain practices on others, all could be considered 'religious practices', but those who followed the 'rule' without the relationship had not really embraced what God hoped they would. They had all the 'right' practices, but no heart desire to actually 'know' God.

God is more than pleased when we settle into his embrace and forsake all those other beliefs that we held onto for one reason or another. He opens our hearts to his embrace of grace and then he begins the important work of setting in order our hearts, minds, and emotions. In turn, the rules become less and less significant, while the time we spend at his feet rises to the place of significance once held by those beliefs that brought us no real satisfaction or peace. We could 'keep the list', but isn't it better to choose the robust life that comes from really entering into a trusting relationship with Christ? Just askin...

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