It never ends. The constant fight between works and faith is never ending either in our internal conversation or the observation of the world around us. Is our outward face reveling an inner faith? For Christians it would seem to be enough that Romans was written and Paul’s contention that the just live by faith and Christ removed the curse of the law. If Christ came to free us from the Law why do we constantly attempt to put ourselves back under it and force others to do the same?
Our Mary Okeyo travelers are going to a place where the Missionaries said, “If you smoke or drink you will go to hell”. If we do this and that we will go to hell. Christ the new law giver might have punished them with AIDs as well. Christian legalism is alive and well around the world and in our church too. The fact that it never works is usually not mentioned. We have never gotten past the question parents have to struggle with – would I rather have a child that outwardly looks good and inside is a pile of corruption, or a child that makes me crazy with disobedience but inwardly is a caring and loving person struggling with the reality of life, that the good I want to do I don’t always do? Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is sin too according to our faith but…..We have a historical record to look at if we will. It tells us that when we try to run the world by what we believe is the Christian “rule” we cause more problems. I have to judge the missionaries success by what I see. They taught folks that if they drank and smoke they would go to hell and I know they taught this because the people that told me the story were drinking and smoking. No wonder Paul determined to know nothing among his hearers but Christ and him crucified.
“That final and ultimate proof that Protestant modernism is the end result of Christian legalism is clearly demonstrated in its confusion of the Law and the Gospel. If Jesus Christ is to be understood basically as a teacher and giver of the Law, then there is no need for the old church dogma about his person and work. Such a moralistic view of Christianity no longer requires a definition of the Gospel which depends on Christ’s redemptive death and resurrection. With this kind of understanding, the church is nothing more than a one huge, immense reformatory school. Her claim to existence would depend on the principles of morality she promotes and the ethical behavior which they produce. If it seems that Christianity does not live up to the expectations of these moral principles, then all the evidence is in place for doing away with Christianity. We would fair better to look around for another reformatory school other than the church to accomplish what we want. Every attempt which history has undertaken up until this time to actualize the rule of God or Christ in the world by obtaining recognition of divine Law or the Law of Christ [lex Christi] has ended up in tragedy for the church.” – Hermann Sasse