Monday, 15 February 2010

Nor the budgie within thy cage

My Dad tells of a household in which the budgie's swing, mirror and bell were removed from its cage on Sundays.

But being aware of legalism elsewhere doesn't make us immune. My early years were quite strictly sabbatatian too. Until I was about ten years old we weren't even allowed to play ball games on "the Lord's Day", or to play with the neighbours. I dreaded the door bell. Why didn't they ever learn? "Sorry, it's Sunday. We're not allowed to play out on Sundays". I clearly remember that Falklands War of 1982 was the first time we ever watched TV on a Sunday.

We were not allowed to play Monopoly on "the Lord's Day", but we were allowed to play "The Wycliffe Missionary Game". However, this became affectionately known as "Sunday Monopoly". Instead of building an empire of hotels, the goal was to be first to translate the Scriptures. Instead of collecting money, we collected prayer partners; instead of paying a fine for being drunk in charge of a bicycle, we lost prayer partners for failing to write prayer letters; instead of going to jail, we caught malaria or had to go home on furlough.

What I've learnt is that my own heart has a bent towards legalism. I can be pretty good at observing the letter of the law while my heart is somewhere else.

But I give thanks for parents who made Sunday special, and who made the regular frequent meetings of God's people a priority. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is" -- Hebrews 10:25 (KJV)

I've also learnt that it's all too easy childishly to label things as legalism in order to excuse my own lack of discipline. I've seen it in others who seem to regard meeting together even once on a Sunday something of a chore. And I've seen it in my own sloppy personal devotions.

In summary, I'm learning that both legalism and falsely calling discipline by that name are just two of Satan's devices for keeping our hearts far from God.

Perhaps there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for the sabbatarian budgie (e.g. to stop the bird's noise distracting quiet reflection on the morning's sermon)? I just suspect not.

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