Not relenting

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I know I have been here before, but it is that time of year when we hear of those noble spirits who will be relinquishing chocolate (Book of Additions, chapter 1, verse 28), smartphones (Second Letter to the Accretions, chapter 5, verse 3) and new tattoos (Superstitions of St. Jeff, chapter 24, verse 9) for Jesus over the course of this season they call Lent. My esteem for such demonstrations of commitment can scarcely be calculated.

What I find particularly hard to fathom is how some of the very same people who, in the name of grace, want to emphasize our freedom from such impositions as certain aspects of the Ten Commandments, are happy to overlook what seems to be the plain teaching of the letter to the Galatians, beloved of anti-legalists everywhere:
But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have laboured for you in vain. (Gal 4.9-11)
Or there is the clear thought of Colossians:
Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations--"Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. (Col 2.20-23)
So, here's a thought: how about giving up semi-Roman Catholic dogma, humanly-mandated asceticism, and empty gestures? Rend your heart and not your garments, and do so not because it is a particular time of year, but because you have a particular kind of heart with its particular manifestations of rebellion. Self-control is never out of fashion. Repentance and confession may have their particular seasons in the life of the saints, but it is worth remembering that when our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent," he called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
Posted March 7, 2014 @ 5:12 AM by Jeremy Walker

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