Rejecting the Jesus they never knew…


I’ve been reading a lot over at these days.  This is a group of young people who have come out of the teachings and influence of Bill Gothard.  They represent a great deal of pain and confusion because of the legalist teachings.  Many of them have found the way to the grace of God in Jesus and enjoy their walk with Him.  Others, however, have given up on religion completely.

It breaks my heart to hear someone say he has rejected Jesus because of legalism.  I want to scream: “Jesus was never a part of legalism.  You can’t reject the true faith of Christ if you have never known it.”  In some ways the first motivation of this ministry (Grace for the Heart) was to reach out to those who have either rejected or are afraid of Jesus because of what has been done to them by Christians.

But it makes sense, doesn’t it?  If Jesus is presented as someone who expects rules and standards in order to love, then what happens when you can’t reach those standards or keep those rules?  And if He is always angry with me because I can’t measure up, then I would naturally want to distance myself from Him.  If the phrase “sinners in the hands of an angry God” refers to Christians, then who would want to be a Christian?

There’s more.  According to performance spirituality, we are supposed to work for our salvation, either to earn it or to keep it.  But if I could do that, why would I need a Savior at all?  It seems very reasonable to reject Jesus if I just have to do it all myself anyway.  And, if I reject Jesus, what is left?  Even the legalist system says He is most important.  I might as well come up with some “basic principles” of my own.  My morality.  Developed by me and for me.   Do it myself.

I also understand that the name of the Lord was taken in vain by churches, preachers, parents, and others.  They used His name to condemn many things, even things He never condemned.  They used His name to push and pull and intimidate.  They used His name to hurt and abuse.  And, when they had made Him an enemy of our hearts, they told us He loved us.


(Capitalized and ended with an exclamation point.  I was tempted to underline it also.  Maybe italics?)

That was never the message of the Lord.  It was never about how well we could perform.  The gospel accepts our failure as normal and natural, then offers real deliverance in the person of Jesus, someone who came to get us because He loves us.  Performance was never the issue.

Jesus is about God’s love for you and me.  Some preachers shout about His condemnation, but He says there is no condemnation.  Some teach about His anger over our sin, but He says our sins have been washed away.  Some tell us we should prepare for His wrath, but He tells us He has prepared a wonderful and good place for us.  Some tell us of His disappointment with us, but He tells us of the joy of His heart as He thinks of us.

The message of legalism and performance, anger and hatred, was never the message of Jesus.  The god of legalism is not the God of love, not the God of the Bible.  It has all been a lie.

I pray for those who push away the truth because they have only heard the lie.


Filed under heart, Legalism, Relationship

8 responses to “Rejecting the Jesus they never knew…

  1. Tammy

    So true. Thank you.

    KNOW <— That you are truly blessing me and many others that you will never meet
    BE ENCOURAGED <— Your words are like a toasty warm blanket in this freezing world we live in. You have richly blessed me this week, with words I needed to hear and I am sharing them with others including my teenage daughter.
    THANK YOU <— Thank you for continually taking your time to share the wisdom that God has blessed you with. I know it takes lots of time to write such thoughtful posts.
    IMAGINE <— A world where Grace is accepted as a universal truth
    IMAGINE <— That this reply is in ALL CAPS, underlined, italicized and highlighted! haha! I do love your sense of humor!

    I prayed for you after I read this. That the Holy Spirit will encourage you. That God will continue the stream of living water into your soul and life and that you will be blessed.

    Hugs and Blessings to you and your family!

    • Amen to what Tammy said.
      I am in a community with a high saturatio of homeschoolers, and while not all are legalists, quite a number really are. As I homeschooled for several years too, I felt very much like one of those women on the recoveringgrace site–always inadequate, always guilty of something, burdened all the time. Why? Because it was a graceless environment. I can ONLY be a good parent if I am aware of how much I need, and how very much God gives, his grace. One older mom once taught a group of us: “You don’t need to be perfect. You just need to be good enough.” And I felt like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer. What, exactly, is “good enough”? Whatever it was, I wasn’t it.
      But Jesus IS good enough. Period. And I run to him, and I run to him, and I run to him. And finally, I’m beginning again to know that he is still there. I couldn’t see him, experience him, in all the rules and abuse coming from every side in my life.
      Thank you, Pastor Dave, for helping peel away the lies and the “almost truths” so we can see again the only thing that is real and trustworthy.

      • UnForsaken

        Repol, this subject is very close to my heart. My family were early homeschoolers, who were independent from the group…but still raised in legalism. I’m So sorry you had such rejection! I was too. Being raised in semi-isolation, not getting involved takes a heavy toll on Understanding relationsips . Although I now realize the N was super proud of our “independence”, it was meant to make us his own followers, not thinkers. Today I’m grateful to not have been overly exposed to what everybody else thought, but the N got more than he bargained for. I can’t stop thinking as an individual. And part of that includes thinking of other people’s needs, not just his !
        “Groups” of any kind tend to be shallow and not undertand deep pain. Being “outsiders” may have actually helped us turn to the One True Friend , and be disatisfied with the “norm”.
        Sending a Great Big Hug. Keep on thinking and coming to the conclusions God has for You We will never be good enough fo the lgalist, but WHy would we want to be? JOY….WE HAVE HIM!

  2. Karen

    Thank you! This is a very good reminder. I appreciate your posts that help me put truth into words. You are a blessing!

  3. Finallyfree

    This is a timely message for me. Each morning I start my day with my coffee and my hope that I can somehow push through all the lies about Jesus that I was taught. It’s such hard work for me to believe in His love. Some days I just can’t hear His love or accept it as His voice because it feels too good to be true! Those words of shame from the past shout so loudly in my thoughts. I absolutely have brain knowledge that He is loving. It’s how the scripture reveals Him and it’s what I choose to believe. It’s the heart knowledge that is hard to come by! Often even the very fact that I can’t seem to grasp the truth of His love in my heart fills me with shame. It helps at those times to reread the love chapter. “Love is patient. Love is kind.” Are the very first attributes listed. Jesus is patient. Jesus is kind…and I continue to read the whole thing substituting “Jesus” for “love”. If you are struggling to undo years and years of lies as I struggle, I hope this encourages you, too. For me, it was also helpful to notice that the ones who lied to me about Jesus exhibited the exact opposite of those virtues of love, and if I’m honest, so do I. Yet, He remains patient, kind……..towards all of us.

    • FinallyFree: I know what you mean. I have caught myself saying, “I have to be better about believing what scripture says about freedom in grace.”
      What a paradox that is! It’s still ME having to “do better.”

      Rest. Rest for the weary. I wonder if he just shakes his head at me, knowing one day I’ll finally see. It’s too simple, too beautiful.

      • UnForsaken

        That’s a wonderful tip, FinallyFree!!! whenever I need something good and beautiful to think about, I’ll pray to remember your idea.
        Repol, I’d like to think of God shaking His head with a sense of Humor. He created it and like the good parent He is, must be a little charmed by our helplessness…at least when we realize our need for Him. ” Daddy, will you help me? This thing fell apart.” ( Glue dripping everywhere.) Yeah, I think He laughs. But Not at us! He is there to help and expects humans to be humans…week and needy, but precious in His sight !

  4. Anne-Christina

    Thank you for reminding me of the truth every week 🙂

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