Last week Roger’s family escaped from Cuba and the tyranny of the communist government and settled in Puerto Rico. Roger, however, found that tyranny can in exist in more than one form.
Being the son of a pastor, my exposure to church was very frequent, normally attending meetings at least three times a week and then, as Dad was also an evangelist, there were long stretches of nightly meetings with slides, videos and the whole production.
I got A LOT of church, but LITTLE of Christ. The church focused on rules and regulations and it frustrated me as a teenager because many times the rules didn’t make sense to me. People often say that rules without relationship leads to rebellion and that is exactly what happened to me.
Knowledge without power is frustrating. My experience was similar to Martin Luther’s in that I was doing a lot of things, but it only resulted in feelings of guilt and insecurity. I never knew if I should pray for one hour, two or all night long. I was working toward victory instead of working FROM VICTORY. It is like there is never a finish line, as the song says, “Forever running but losing the race…” Working toward victory rather than FROM VICTORY leads one to do the very things they try not do to. Information is good, but not good enough.
Knowledge without power is dangerous. Knowledge can give a person a big head causing them to think they are better than others who don’t know as much as they do. It can also lead one to believe that all they have to do to convert someone is share information. I had no problem reciting timelines and all the reasons why I was in the correct church, but because I hadn’t experienced Jesus’ love, I felt free to use information as a bully club. The unconverted heart would much rather talk about doctrines and rules than about the more practical aspects of the Christian walk such as service, sacrifice, devotion, praise and humility.
Knowledge without power makes secondary issues primary ones. Churches can get divided over insignificant things like hair length for guys, or whether jeans can be worn to church. Long battles and lively discussions over these “important” issues result in more rules and less personal choice. When we make EVERYTHING a sin, eventually NOTHING is sin. The thing I really needed to know was how to develop a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. When I was a junior in college I finally understood this. The knowledge of a loving Savior finally traveled the toughest 18 inches in the world, from my head to my heart.
–continued next week–
Condensed from the book: Everyone Welcome, by Roger Hernandez, pgs. 12-14