I’ve mentioned a couple of times that shortly after my wife and I accepted Jesus as our Savior back in 1983, we joined an independent fundamental Baptist church in our area. I can best describe it as a church that emulated Jerry Falwell and his Liberty Baptist Church; VERY heavy into politics and patriotism and also VERY heavy into waging culture battles. We grew in the Lord somewhat while we were there but there were also a LOT of legalistic attitudes at that church, which eventually wore us down to the point that we stopped attending in 1991. I even walked away from the Lord for the next twenty-three years, like a foolish dummy.
We have a lot of memories of that church, both good and bad, but some of those people did some outlandish things. I was driving home from work yesterday and recalled the following illustrative episode:
One day my wife and I went out to dinner with another couple from the church. We chose to eat at a Chinese restaurant and, just like many Chinese restaurants, we were all served egg rolls as an appetizer. Both husband and wife proceeded to cut open their egg rolls and pick out the tiny strands of pork that were embedded in the shredded cabbage with their forks. I asked them what they were doing and they answered the Bible forbids believers to eat pork. Hoo boy! I told them the Old Testament dietary laws were done away with by the New Testament covenant (see Mark 7:17-23 and Acts 10:9-15) but they were having none of it and continued to pick out the pork, but said for us to go ahead if we were fine with eating it. We’re told not to offend those who still struggle with OT dietary laws (Romans 14:1-23) but these people were not Jewish and it was not 57 AD!!! Time to read the entire Bible, folks! Well, as you might suspect, I ate the entire contents of my egg rolls and savored every pork shred. There were other, similar legalities people in that church engaged in. The general attitude fostered that kind of nitpicky scrupulosity and judgmentalism. These were my brothers and sisters in the Lord and I probably shouldn’t point out their foibles but I use it as an example of how we should be on guard against scrupulous legalism.
Thank you, Jesus, for fulfilling the entire law and saving me by grace through faith in You alone. Help me to know Your entire Word and to focus on loving You and love for the brethren. And thanks for pork chops and barbecue ribs – in moderation of course!