Legalism bugs me. It bugged me long before I even knew what to call it. I think what bugs me the most is that when people are legalistic they usually leave out one important part of the equation: Jesus. Had Jesus been legalistic he wouldn’t have healed lepers, dined with tax collectors, talked with adulterers, and called a bunch of grubby fishermen to be His disciples. (And besides, the Pharisee’s had enough legalism for everyone!)
In my mind, legalism paralyzes the Christian community: it causes our faith to die-with little hope of resuscitation unless we get our hands dirty. I think it is hard to be legalistic and a foster parent at the same time. I was talking to Jeff about this issue tonight and he said “what do you mean, I think it’s hard to be legalistic and be a Christian!”
One definition of legalism is “strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, esp. to the letter rather than the spirit.” Strict adherence to the letter of the law rather than the spirit. Foster care takes spirit, doesn’t it? It’s risky. It takes looking beyond the sadness, hopelessness and horror and believing that God can use us to make a difference; and He not only CAN, but He WILL. Sometimes legalism gives us an excuse to sit back and do nothing; compassion draws us to care, legalism negates that compassion. What really matters is not rules, but what God says…and He says “true and undefiled religion in the sight of God the Father is to care for widows and orphans”. It’s time for the church to stand up and be counted. It’s time to ‘get our hands dirty’- to get away from rules and regulations and embrace the very children that Jesus would be physically ministering to if He walked the earth in 2011.