Our Christian walk is usually full of these same things on a spiritual level. We get drawn into a quagmire of rules and regulations to help us live a "Godly" life, but which actually stifle the very freedom Jesus intended us to have.
My grandfather was a Salvation Army officer during the second world war and for some time afterwards. He would volunteer to work Christmas Day so his colleagues could have the day with their families when he took a second job as a hospital porter. He believed it was a Christian thing to do. I tend to agree.
He was less cluttered than me on a spiritual level - physically not so much - and as a result he lived a much freer existence Spiritually than I have been able to. He would go out and sell the Salvation Army newsletter "The War Cry" on the streets every week up to and including the day God called him home at the age of 80. He genuinely didn't care what people thought of him in his uniform sitting in the street come rain or shine. He just sat and talked about his friend, Jesus.
We all need someone like that to remind us of the necessary simplicity of the Christian walk. At its heart, the Christian walk is about friendship with God. He wanted our company in Eternity so much that He arranged to have His arms nailed open to invite us in, and His feet nailed closed so we could see he wouldn't run. He gave us power and freedom beyond anything we could imagine or ask according to the amount we would allow Him to use through us (see Ephesians 3:20). We need to remember as we ask to see Jesus work in our lives that He wants to work more than we want Him to.
It's not possible to ask too much when we ask in line with His will, and it's not possible to out-give His generosity.
We live in so much spiritual clutter that we lose sight of the core of the Gospel: relationship.
The "necessities" we fill our days with are irrelevant for the most part. We stand on ceremony, genuflecting or bowing or showing "respect" when we pass a cross or a cemetery. Utter nonsense. But we do them.
We are so caught up in being "correct" that we miss being right with God. We become modern Pharisees, living to a set of restricting rules and regulations which are unnecessary in Christ.
Our goals should be twofold:
- Give everything we are and have of ourselves to Christ as His instrument
- Do whatever we want
inside of us.
When Peter spoke on the day of Pentecost it wasn't from fear of not speaking, but from relationship.
Healing the cripple at the temple came through relationship. Appointing people anointed to hand out gifts to the poor, widows and orphans was an act of Love springing from relationship. The Apostles were willing to, but recognised they were not called to do this honour.
We need to return to a place where we find Him in all our actions, not where we build rules and regulations to force us into patterns of behaviour. We may differ on some issues regarding what is and isn't sinful - and that won't go away quickly - but we need to place our focus on building a right relationship with God, selfless and set apart for Him and His Worship. Everything else will fall into place.
We've become, as I said, so bogged down by rules that we've lost the freedom. We have denominations who say we must be strict about the maintaining of Sunday as a "special" day. Why?
Jesus picked corn on the Sabbath. He healed on the Sabbath. He taught and worked on the Sabbath. Why shouldn't we? I'm not saying do away with church meetings, but don't judge the people who can't attend regularly because they need to put food on their children's plates.
Where we spend eternity has nothing to do with where we spend Sunday morning. We need to stop judging trivial nonsense as though it were Gospel and revert back to the simplicity of the Gospel itself. When Jesus forgave the thief on the cross alongside Him, he wasn't commissioning him to make disciples, He was welcoming in a lost sheep. It's never too late. Who are we to judge someone's heart? We don't know their story. We can't know their pain.
We judge the irrelevant and miss the point. We all do it - me included. For me it's a work in progress.
It needs to be for all of us.
Stay away from the trivial irrelevancies and recover the Truth in the simplicity if Christ's Love - the Gospel.
It's time to un-clutter our Spiritual walk, lose the baggage and return to Him who first freed us.