I am a news junkie. I like to know what is going on. News organizations have started ramping up 2012 Presidential hopefuls for the Republican party. A phrase I keep hearing is “a purity code”. The various parties, both conservative, liberal, and tea, all have a code. They are asking “are they____________ enough to win” Fill in the blank: morally conservative, fiscally conservative, christian, liberal, etc. The problem is, no one can pass this test and win.
We in the church have our own set of purity codes. I am not talking about the code or laws from the O.T., but the subtle codes we carry around in our minds. We carry these codes for many of the spiritual disciplines of faith. Here is an example:
Did you have your devotions?
First we decide what that means to us and then it become the purity code by which to measure other people devotional time. Some of the factors that make up this purity code are:
- Time (how long was your devotion? How long is enough?)
- Did you memorize a verse
- Did you sing and worship the Lord?
- Did you pray, and how long?
- Did you read the The Word? How long? (what is the appropriate time)
You could apply this to worship, fasting, bible study, church attendance etc.
A book that really screwed me up was Larry Lea’s Could You Not Tarry One Hour? It was the ultimate purity code for prayer and devotion time in 1987. Not that I am against praying for an hour or extending my devotional time, but it was the feeling of failure that came over me when I could not do the full hour. I tried and tried, and I always measured my time with God by the hour. I never seemed to enjoy God because I was always watching the clock.
I wonder how many times we put an “unfair” purity code upon students that only Pharisees intended. Ways we do this?
- Do you speak in tongues?
- Can you spit out the four spiritual laws? (nothing agains the 4)
- Do you raise your hands during worship?
- Consistent attendance in Sunday School, Small Group, Or Youth ( I am pro attendance BTW)
- Do you share your faith all the time? (I am pro faith sharing)
- Do you bring your friends to church? (I am pro invitations)
We use these “codes” to qualify leadership or sometimes to determine if a person is “really” saved. The challenge our youth ministries may be facing is an over codification of faith.
I am all for scriptural and some human standards, principles, evidences, but I have aversion to codes; especially if they are man made and locked tight to change. I guess we should all take a gut check and a Word check, and see if there are some secret, man made codes we have been using to qualify the spiritual lives of ourselves and our students. As we go, we we should remember that we ourselves cannot even pass our own codes most of the time.
“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, “(NASB)
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatian 2:21
“The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
“Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law” (NLT) Romans 13:8
Let’s enjoy the Lord and each other and “the code” will take care of itself.