A Different Kind of Legalism

I love the simplicity of the Christian faith. It has been said that Christianity and simplicity are two sides of the same coin, and I tend to agree. Look at the life of Jesus. Examine the early church with its decided lack of complicated bureaucracy. Consider the doctrinal tenets of your faith, and you will have to admit that they are profoundly deep, yet so simple that even a child can grasp them. Such is the life of the believer...simple, yet absorbingly and richly layered. Not complicated, yet not easy. That sums up the Christian worldview and lifestyle.

The unbeliever complicates everything. God didn't invent the rat race, and He never intended that my life be a perplexing, complex series of pseudo goals to be attained. "One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after..."

Those words poured from the heart of King David. They are the rich creed of the thinking woman. It requires intellectual vitality to disentagle the knots of modern-day legalism. In the search to "feel better", we've created for ourselves a culture of therapy, where our every emotion is analyzed, our personalities categorized, and the results compared. We can't even enjoy work for the sake of work anymore. We no longer do "whatever our hand finds to do" with a hearty love for the Lord, with all our might, out of conviction alone....our job must match our personality. If not, we have somehow broken the Laws of Happy Living. Locked into a legalism of self improvement, we have sinned against the god of self if we find ourselves not enjoying our job.

Such an apalling lack of imagination. There was a time, when society was more intelligent and more grateful, when every sort of work, if it was hard work and made the lives of others better, was honorable and usually enjoyable.

According to this new legalism, even a simple smile should become an elaborate system of self improvement. Don't believe me? I ran across an article in a section of the magazine "Country Living", entitled "Smiling from the Inside Out - Lilias Folan shares the secrets of a powerful source of healing energy." For your enlightenment (and my utter amusement) I'll recount it for you here, word for word:

Begin by closing your eyes.

Focus attention on your mouth.

Recall someone or something that brings a genuine smile to your lips...

Radiate that smile up into your eyes.

Radiate the energy up into your left ear, then your right one.

Smile into your brain.

Smile into your tongue.

Send the smile down into your voice box.

Smile down into your heart. Feel your heart smiling back at you.

Smile into your left lung, then into your right lung.

Smile into your organs, bones, muscles, and nervous system and feel them all smiling back.

Smile that warm, healing energy to a spot that wants a little extra help today.

Folks, you can't make this stuff up. This is where the legalism of self awareness, and the rules of therapy culture take you.

Give me the simplicity of Christ and an effortless smile and some work for my hands to do. I promise, it will be enough for me.

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