Last week the torrential rains caused the river to swell out of its banks. It was the highest I had seen the water in my backyard. The river floated huge logs and tons of silt down stream, doing damage to most things in its way, including my fences. I had a couple of fences go down as a result. So...you can guess what I have been doing lately. That's right, fixing fences! Cowboy up and EEE-Haw!
While hauling around barbed wire and tapping in a few T-posts I started thinking again about our church's transition. Coming from a 'holiness' / legalist stance to a more balanced / Grace position, I renewed the value of the transition in my mind. The fence became a perfect illustration.
Most holiness preachers speak about the value of the boundary. "Fences are to keep folks in and wolves out," they say. Well in truth, sheep do not rely on fences but on the Shepherd. It is the voice of the Shepherd that keeps them safe. Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice...and another they will not follow."
It occurred to me that, no matter where I made a fence, it did not change the legal ownership of the property. In fact, one of my fences is actually over on my neighbor's side of the line. The fence however, does not mean I am the legal owner! It is the legal platt which dictates ownership. With that said, understand that God's Word determines who is saved and who is not. The deed for my redemption was signed at Calvary. A fence or standard, no matter where it is placed, does not qualify me. My only qualification is of Christ's blood...and not of my works "...lest any man should boast!" Sure, the fence may help to identify me....as to whether I am of this strain of cattle or whether I am of certain breed of sheep, etc. But, fences do not set the legalities of ownership. The only lines of demarkation set forth in the Word are sin lines! Sins that will keep one out of heaven are clearly marked and need no interpretation from men.
To help us understand further, I have much appreciation for people with strict disciplines of dress and behavior as long as they recognize they are not the only ones on the farm. But I have little appreciation for people who look down their noses at someone who does not run inside 'their' fence and assumes they are not part of the 'ranch'. Get the point? Men do not decide who is on the ranch or not, God does! And since God is more interested in the heart, He does not place nearly as much value on where men drive their T-post and attach their barbed wire!
Wouldn't it be great if Christianity had a baptism of tolerance. What if the holiness folks really believed fellows with whiskers on their chin, and ladies with powder on their noses or a necklace about their neck could be saved? What if the liberal people didn't overly criticize ladies who consider it part of their worship to wear their hair uncut? I can almost hear Louis Armstrong singing..."What a Wonderful World!" You can be sure the ranch is bigger than we think. Have a great day!