There was this one time (yes, only one time) that I ended up playing a tambourine for our church worship group. For the life of me I can’t remember if I was asked to do it, or if I just saw a need and filled it. (I’m really, really, really, hoping it’s not the latter!!) But there I was playing the tambourine trying to punctuate music with some rhythm. I don’t have the gift of timing and was spectacularly awful with that tambourine.
So, you know what I did? Stopped? Oh no! I’m not a quitter. I just hit that thing against my leg harder. And it hurt very badly. So badly that I developed a considerable bruise. You know how I dealt with that? I stopped? Still no—remember, I’m no quitter! I just switched sides and banged that thing against my other leg. People left the service having experienced disappointing music and I left with two very bruised legs.
When something really doesn’t work, doing the same thing dressed up differently still won’t make it work.
I think the Christian community has sometimes tried to do this when it comes to following the law and to living under grace. Some have tried really hard to follow the law, only to discover that they can’t. And trying harder just hurts more.
So they ‘switch legs’—they bang the same instrument, only this time, instead of hitting the leg of law, they smack the leg of grace. They stay away from the law and any pretense of following it, and instead, they do whatever they want because it’s all grace. But, having traded religion for irreligion, they walk away having enjoyed neither experience and discovering that both hurt.
The gospel says put away the tambourine and go to Jesus. Only Jesus can free you from the pain of following a law with impossible standards. Only Jesus can free you from the pain of following no standard at all.
Only Jesus compels our hearts to follow Him into the freedom of relationship.