In my quest for spiritual relief, I had a question about legalism. You hear this term thrown about a lot in Protestant churches and even from some Catholics, but I never truly understood the meaning. Legalism is the keeping of the law to EARN salvation. I could see the problem in that, however if we see fellow Christians keeping the law out of love...how can we condemn this?
Here is a passage I found from www.apuritansmind.com:
"So we see that there is a large gulf between what it means to be Legalistic (keeping the Law for salvation) and obedient (keeping the Law because we have been saved). We need the Law to show us our sin. We need the Law to direct us into righteousness. We need the commands of Christ which are laid all through the Scriptures to further our sanctification and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). Salvation does not depend on keeping the Law, but rather, our salvation is seen in us when we do keep the Law."
And I can see from my past mentality that I was keeping the law and looking down on those who didn't...which is one step from falling into the pit of legalism. But as I have spent these past few weeks ignoring the law and not reciting my Shema in the morning and at night, not celebrating the Shabbat on Friday nights into Saturday, and forgeting Kosher eating, I have felt lost. I felt like I was defiling myself. I never once thought I had lost my salvation; NO WAY! I just felt empty.
So the other day as I was looking for modest clothing websites and this one site separated lines by religion which I thought was odd, but cute. As I looked through the lists: Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Catholic.....Messianic. I was like ahhh! How did messianic get that much notice?! I was giddy to say the least...so I peeked out of curiosity. Looking through the tallits, tichels (headscarves), tzit tzit...I melted. The site also had a link to other messianic sites and one was to a children's webpage. It had characters that taught about the Shabbat and other Biblical holidays. I was immediately drawn to the Rosh Hashana page because this holiday will always be a biggy in my life. Last September (2008) I had my drivers test on Rosh Hashana and I had been trying to stay Catholic at the time so the holiday was not on my calendar. The night before I was heavy in prayer due to nerves (I was a new driver and I didn't want my friends to ridicule me for failing a test they all passed) and I remembered what the next day was...
Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year; a time to prayer for forgiveness and start a new beginning in one's life. Similar to our new year's resolutions. It's also a day of joy and anticipation: apples and honey symbolize the hope God will grant us a sweet new year. I meditated on this and decided I would do extra bible reading to remember rosh hashana the next day. Pass or fail, I would accept God's will with my license and I would glorify him on a day he himself Sanctified. As I parked the car the next morning, my instructor said "You passed"; without looking at me once. I was like... "I..I what? I passed?!" in utter shock haha (Which probably made the woman think she made the wrong decision...hahaha) A flash of all the mistake I made during the test came over me...how I stopped the car mid-3 point turn and said "I'm so sorry if I am doing this wrong!" How I failed to parallel park great, and how the kid before me who failed tried to sabotage me by opening his door in the middle of the street. I gave my worried parents a thumbs up from inside the car; they later told me they thought I failed since I parked the car horrificially at the end...hey it was a crowded street! :)
Anyways the point is, despite the numerous mistakes I made; I trusted YHVH and promised my loyalty and gratitude no matter what. Even though to you guys a drivers test doesn't seem like a huge deal, to me it was. Peer pressure beyond belief, not to mention I did not want to take the bus my senior year!! Through my trust I was passed; my acts surely did not merit it. The hope he gave me that day changed me. I hadn't had such a life changing experience before; I had never needed to trust God so much in my life before. No matter what though, I wanted to praise God by celebrating with him on his new year; Rosh Hashana. Needless to say, he granted me the sweetest new year I could have ever pictured. Better than any apples and honey could provide.
I love many aspects of the RCC and I think God has drawn me to it so I could figure out why it is I love to keep the Torah. I do it because I am free to and I can show him my love and recieve the blessings he has given through his holy and sanctified word! I also needed a good kick in the bum about judging that which I did not understand. But I needed this middle ground; I cannot stress over laws to maintain my salvation...but then again by ignoring them all together I am doing my soul no justice. My soul longs for Torah. I haven't intentionally eaten pork in years and shellfish (my pre-salvation favorite!) makes me physically ill. I anticipate every Erev Shabbat and joyfully love resting and studying the word on Saturdays, but Sunday morning services leave me feeling dry and needing more. It's like a cliff hanger and I always pine for my Shabbat. The one that is clearly stated in the 10 commandments. The one Jesus himself celebrated.
I don't think I can ever be a Catholic again after I have spent the last 3+ years as a "messianic"; better yet, don't categorize me, a Torah follower. The Bible makes sense with the law, it's not longer a giant walking CONTRADICTION. And the Catholic dogmas, while not the satanic practices I once thought of them as, don't fulfill my spiritual needs. The rosary is a good meditation device, but I can't bring myself to devote my life to any person...not even mary. Mary was a great role model, and so are people like Oprah & Kirk Cameron, but I wouldn't make a devotion for them. There are many aspects of the Church I love, like infant baptism and the worldwide unity, but in my heart, I'll never have the satisfaction I gain from Torah. It's like being with a man whom you don't love, but like. Enjoyable to a degree, but wrong in every other aspect.
I've never felt at home in Church, as much as I wish I had. I'm not giving up on my quest...but the research I am doing, and have been doing on and off for a while, always leads me back to Torah.
Pray for me!