Friday, June 22, 2007

Bridges on Legalistic Fences

Zach Nielson posts a good quote from Jerry Bridges (Transforming Grace, p. 124):
I think my parents' pool hall fence was appropriate. But there is a lesson in my experience for all parents: Don't focus on the fence. If you erect a fence for your children - for example, in regard to certain movies or television programs- be sure to focus on the real issues, not the fence. Take time to explain and re-explain the reason for the fence.

If you decide, as my parents did , that you don't want your children going to the local pool hall, explain why. Distinguish between playing the game itself - which has neither negative nor positive moral value - and the atmosphere you are trying to protect them from.

For all of us, it may be good to have some fences, but we have to work at keeping them as just that - fences, helpful to us but not necessarily applicable to others. we also have to work at guarding our freedom from other people's fences.

Some of the fences in our respective Christian circles have been around a long time. No one quite knows their origin, but by now they are "embedded in concrete". Although it may cause conflict if you violate one, you must guard your freedom. To paraphrase Paul, "Stand firm in your freedom, and don't let anyone bring you into bondage with their fences."

I'm not suggesting you jump over fences just to thumb your nose at the people who hold to them so dearly. We are to "make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification" (Romans 14:19). Use discretion in embracing or rejecting a particular fence. but don't let other coerce you with man made rules. And ask God to help you see if you are subtly coercing or judging others with your own fences.