Doug has a gorgeous, custom-built cabinet in his wood shop. It was designed and constructed for a KITCHEN.
How did this beauty end
up in his dusty shop? Someone measured wrong and Doug snagged a bargain!
Mismeasuring can be costly. But in Christianity, measuring can be deadly. We
tend to do so within the family, judging people by standards.
In the 60's it was sideburns. . .not too long but couldn't be non-existent either. Then hemlines followed, modesty varying by church or school rules.
When I was pre-adolescent a young pastor's wife had me on my knees convincing me that pants were a sin. So I went next door to Granddaddy Strickland's house and told Mama, "I gotta get rid of my blue jeans."
She promptly stomped back to the preacher's trailer and told that young wife, "My daughter's standards are between us and God!"
I didn't realize it so much then, but Mom set a great model for me. She recognized the little Pharisee in all of us. Why else did Jesus say so much about the religious groups doing this to each other? We merely substituted hemlines and sideburns for philacteries. Forcing the appearance of maturity or modesty on newborns actually thwarts spiritual growth.
Listening to man, even good men, can deafen ears to God's voice.
Martin Luther knew this and broke out in the PROTESTant REFORMation! We'd agree salvation is not by works, but neither is growth. Works, service, standards are results of maturity, not the means. Following God is not synonymous with following a list of rules. Transformation is a process only God does as we practice spiritual disciplines. Spiritual formation is the result.
"Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. . .
It isn't just action. That is the error of the Pharisee."
Daddy knew this too. While the Baptist standard in my teen years was no dancing, at home it was a non-issue. But there came a day I asked, "Daddy, there's a dance at school and I wanna go." I'd never been. That was precisely why I wanted to go.
"Well, Kathy, you're old enough to decide for yourself." He gave no warnings other than doing right. So I went. He knew I had no date so that made it safer. The music was loud and the dancing swirled around me, intoxicatingly. I sat there for awhile wishing I could do the twist. Then some guy asked me to dance. At that moment I realized I don't know HOW to dance! Juvenile brains don't project ahead very far.
"No thank you."
It was the most boring evening of my tender life! But Daddy gave me freedom to choose. He respected my will and expressed trust in me. Wow! What a gift.
Facial hair, alcohol, music, dress styles, the list is endless and evolving. So if beards are out, does that include soul patches for musicians? I know Fumanchus are out, fashionably speaking. Except I think the facial hair rule doesn't apply to vacation weeks.
One year Doug grew a beard during our mountain vacation. Then we bumped into our pastor in Cherokee, who also had grown a beard and was wearing a T shirt that said, "When all else fails, lower your standards." Gets confusing, doesn't it?
Now my first experience with alcohol was accidental. I may have been 12. I was my cousin's bridesmaid. During the rehearsal dinner for Joan Kay someone asked me if I wanted some punch. "Sure." I love punch.
But it tasted funny. I'd never heard of champaign punch. My virgin lips lost their virginity and I didn't even know!
My second experience with alcohol happened in church. The naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had communion. When I tasted the dipped wafer, I recognized it. . .champaign punch! There I go again--pure lips defiled!
More recently I played with a jazz band in Columbia for our state senators. We opened for SC's Josh Turner and That Long Black Train was rumbling my way! As we were leaving the gig. . . (yes, they actually say gig) I helped haul musical instruments, stands and equipment to our van. The dark parking lot was buzzing as caterers also lugged stuff to their van. Suddenly a chef dropped something and his armload began to roll toward the dark street. I rushed to help him gather up his cans. My arms full, I went to his van and suddenly realized I was loaded down with beer cans! The trumpet player, another Baptist, spotted me and grinned with, "I wish I had a camera. I'd love to see this in your Greenwood newsletter!"
Many adults still don't trust God enough to let Him mature their forever family. People break fellowship with a brother or sister over such disagreements. If you don't wear this, look like that, believe exactly as we say. . .you don't love God. Goodbye! Oh maybe not spoken in words, but worse. . .lived in lives of judgmentalness, separating from those God calls His.
Crawling off the throne to let God be God in others' lives broke a bondage in me. I'm not saying that standards or modesty are not important. I am saying God is the one to judge, guide and mature others as they grow in Him. He's able. Then convictions are real not imposed by people in order to measure up!