Why is it that we are so easily discouraged, experiencing a lack of self value and often find our lives entwined into the web of manipulation? This apparent plight we walk has unseen workings developing under our feet, perhaps we should examine this a little closer.
Possibly the plight of humanity is so, due to the underlying need to qualify. This apparent need has the power to diminish our ability, devalue us as humans and even blind us to what is right before our eyes. When I think about the challenges that the apostle Paul was facing in the early days of the church, one could see similar occurrences of that in operation.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians we see this ongoing struggle between “Bondage to the Law” and “Freedom in Christ”. Firstly we must ask ourselves; What is bondage to the law? The Levitical Law was the requirements for acceptance or better put “The Need to Qualify”. The idea behind this is that you are lesser of a person (you do not qualify) thus these ordinances must be fulfilled to be accepted by God and therefore the people. In Galatians chapter 2 we see that our qualification is found in our faith in Christ; in other words Christ set us free from the need to qualify. This is what Paul was addressing, even with Peter who was slipping back into the need to qualify being under pressure from false brethren. Please note that false brethren were those that insisted that more was needed than faith in Christ, they did not deny faith in Christ but had certain criteria as to how this looked and was to be walked out.
Here is where the waters get muddy. We create in our own minds as to what it looks like to have faith in Christ. We think of the things we do and how we do them (or perhaps how our group does them) then suddenly this becomes the measuring stick or standard for everyone else. This can be a dangerous mindset because we elevate our perspective to a place of divine standpoint thus causing other views to be ungodly or even demonic. I am reminded of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:9 “For now we know in part…..” we do not see the full picture, we do not have the full answer. If this is true then why is it at times we can become so dogmatic about our view, when at best it is a perspective?
Dogma or absolutism will inevitably create a hoop that one must jump through to be accepted. We call this “Acceptance by Performance” which might work in a sporting organization or even a business set up but when it comes to people in their walk in Christ, this type of mindset will nullify the freedom that Christ revealed to us causing us once again to fall into the bondage of the law (the need to qualify).
This need to qualify can in itself become a veil which can limit what we see. If we believe that our daily God activities (do’s and don’ts) are necessary for God’s pleasure and acceptance, then I would suggest that this one has already slipped back into the law (the need to qualify) and will therefore present these activities as requirements for godliness and acceptance in others. Unfortunately, this will inevitably lead to some form of manipulation through fear as the need to qualify would say to us that we fall short, we are not good enough and our faith in Christ doesn’t measure up to the standard that is presented before us. Let us look at the following scriptures Galatians 2:17-3:3
17 “But if, while seeking to be justified (qualified) in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners (blind), is Christ then a minister of sin (blindness)? May it never be! 18 “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed (the need to qualify), I prove myself to be a transgressor. (Blind man) 19 “For through the Law I died to the Law (the need to qualify), so that I might live to God. 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 “I do not nullify the grace of God (by trying to qualify), for if righteousness comes through the Law (the need to qualify), then Christ died needlessly.” 3:1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law (the need to qualify), or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit (faith in Christ), are you now being perfected by the flesh (the need to qualify)?
Note: (area in brackets added to emphasize point)
Pretty harsh words from Paul! Remember that Paul was not trying to condemn rather he was challenging to awaken the blind, to show us how easy it is for all of us to fall back into that death sleep (the need to qualify).
Right now there may be some who are questioning “So anything goes?” I understand the question, but the reality is that the question itself can stem from a fear that we, the church, do not measure up and God will reject us unless we do something more. This underlying fear can distort our view and make us feel quite uneasy and can stir up in us the need to control the situation, which generally means to control and manipulate people. I believe at some point we have all been guilty of this but that is not the point. The purpose is to become aware of the areas of our lives where we function as such so that in due season alterations can be made when we are ready to face them. Saying that, it is important to give the same time and grace to others who have not yet come to that point of awareness.
I will conclude this blog by quoting the “Good News” from Paul which is found in Galatians 5:1
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (the need to qualify).”