Fri, March 10, 2017
Form and Substance
Another substitute for discipleship is Form and Substance. Our Lord referred to this when He reproached the Pharisees for their habit of tithing mint and anise and cumin while at the same time omitting the weightier matters of the Law such as justice, mercy and faith. Literalism manifests itself among us in many ways, but it can always be identified in that it lives by the letter of the Word while ignoring its spirit. It habitually fails to apprehend the inward meaning of Christs words, and contents itself with external compliance with the text. If Christ commands baptism, for instance, it finds fulfillment in the act of water baptism, but the radical meaning of the act as explained in Romans 6 is completely overlooked. It reads the Scriptures regularly, contributes consistently to religious work, attends church every Sunday and otherwise carries on the common duties of a Christian and for this it is to be commended. Its tragic breakdown is its failure to comprehend the Lordship of Christ, the believers discipleship, separation from the world and the crucifixion of the natural man.
Literalism attempts to build a holy temple upon the sandy foundation of the religious self. It will suffer, sacrifice and labor, but it will not die. It is Adam at his pious best, but it has never denied self to take up the cross and follow Christ.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
It is commendable to fulfill religious forms in doctrine and practice. It is quite another to fulfill them substantively from the heart in daily life. It is the latter that expresses true discipleship.
Forgive me, Lord, for trying to follow You without taking up that self-death instrument daily.