Moses brought the Mosaic Law to the nation of Israel in ancient biblical times—the commandments detailed a series of explicit rules to guide the Israelites in their everyday lives in order to obtain righteousness. In those times (pre-Christ), there was no true forgiveness of sin (only atonement) so the people asked for guidelines so that they could avoid walking down the immoral path toward condemnation (this is where the familiar story of Moses and the Ten Commandments comes in). As the entire Old Testament proves over and over, and over again, the people could not uphold the law, constantly fell short and always regressed into a life of sin. In the end, the law served two functions: to frustrate people (to fulfill all requirements was burdensome) and to point all believers toward Christ.
Thankfully, when Jesus came along everything got better (and easier) for us. In the theologically rich book of Romans, the apostle Paul affirms how Christ paid the price for the sins of all men. He did not replace the law, but rather, He is the fulfillment of it so that every human being on the face of the planet could be justified by faith (believing in God). Back in ancient times, there were many sects of people holding onto the “old-school” way of doing things: they rejected Christ and his mission, rejected the concept of faith, and taught that making it to heaven came from following the Law and adhering to strict legal guidelines and ancient customs.
Why the biblical history lesson? Because we now live in a world where Christianity is viewed by many as a religion not of grace, but of judgment, which is the exact antithesis of Christ’s mission. After all, Christ said himself that he came to save those who were lost (Luke 19:10). Nowadays the public has a ubiquitous bad taste in its mouth regarding the church and its believers—some of whom have unfortunately chosen a myriad of topics and issues (i.e. whether it be factions within the religion itself: Pentecostal, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian; or choosing to draw lines in the sand based on all-or-nothing issues such as abortion, gay marriage, women in leadership, and methods of worship) to divide people and then judge accordingly. Ironically, these manmade divisions separate us from each other as well as from our Creator by burdening people with superfluous and unnecessary regulations. This is a modern version of the Law that casts out “the lost” based on their perceived inadequacies. This is completely wrong, and the primary goal is, and always should be, to bring as many people far from God closer to him.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the church should NOT begin to compromise on its ideals or accommodate the secular public in order to “fit in” or to appear more modern and contemporary. By its nature, the written word in the bible is counter-culture and is diametrically opposed to the secular world (as a matter of fact, if you are listening to a preacher or following a church leader whose advice doesn’t unsettle you or make you take a good, hard look at your own life every once in a while, something is terribly wrong). The church should prioritize being pro-Christ, pro-person, and anti-sin to recruit as many souls as possible into the fold. As long as this remains the focus, many of the irrelevant and inconsequential hang-ups that people decide to devote their mental energy to will fall by the wayside. After all, can any rational person envision on the day of judgment, the divine Creator casting aside people because of, for example, wearing jeans to church, attending a house of worship with people that didn’t look like you, a woman who wore makeup, someone who made lots of money, or someone with a tattoo, despite a life full of faith and obedience?
Dr. C.H.E. Sadaphal