Christians and the Church frequently bog down in the quagmire of obeying religious rules (don’t drink, don’t watch various movies, don’t swear etc). Jesus often addressed this interface directly, healing deliberately on the Sabbath, feeding his disciples on the Sabbath, speaking to forbidden Samaritan women, Roman soldiers, healing Greek demoniacs, etc. Jesus HATED religious bigotry and vigorously attacked the Pharisees with colourful language and sometimes violence. (Jesus meek and mild?…I don’t think so). He was a warrior.
Two other warriors: Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln.
The Civil War was not going well and after McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, Meade, president Lincoln – who was desperate for results politically and militarily – finally found a successful fighter in a relatively unknown captain, Ulysses S. Grant. (Grant deliberately added ‘S’ to his initials to be U.S. Grant. Take that you rebels! He fixed his name to the life/death cause he fought for). Grant just fought, and came to Lincoln’s notice after several gritty actions. He got promoted, and eventually Lincoln gave him the top job after cautious generals and lost advantages.
However, Grant was also an alcoholic. He had been sacked from the military for drunkenness, failed at business, failed in real estate, but signed up anyway because he wanted to fight. Political Temperance societies opposed his appointment and criticised Lincoln for appointing him because of his unsavory character, past failures and weakness for drink.
Lincoln characteristically understood Pharisees and brushed them aside with the brilliant riposte…
“I wish I knew what Grant drank, because I’d buy a bottle of it for every one of my generals.”
Grant’s heart was to fight. He was relentless and eventually undid the brilliant General Lee and ended the war. In a Civil War that killed approx. 5% of all American men (mainly young men, more than all US men killed in almost all other US wars including WWI + WWII) this was more important than whether he liked alcohol. HEART is more important than RULES. The latter emasculate men.
- God loved Moses (murderer, fugitive from law, half-breed).
- God loved David (adulterer, murderer, liar, taker of sacred bread).
- God loved Peter (bellicose, weak betrayer, sword carrier and mutilator).
Our failures do not invalidate us; God looks at the heart and loves our essence. The rest is dust from the journey along the way. Live in Heart! and follow the Law of the Spirit which is freedom and fulfills the letter of the Law (which brings death).