Perhaps you’ve read Parts 1-3 of Homeschooling and Legalism, and you’ve become aware of the damaging effect of legalism in your own life. Perhaps you’re a homeschooling mother, or one who was raised under legalism, or both! Where do you go from here? Is homeschooling still a viable option? Is Christianity really the truth? I can understand the many people who have been burned because of legalism, and it has made them skeptical and disillusioned. Sometimes that disillusionment has led them to reject Christianity altogether. I can understand that. Healing is a process that can take quite some time. Sometimes the pain is so great, you just can’t bring yourself to do anything that remotely reminds you of that other life, including reading the Bible, going to church, or believing in God. Something’s been taken from you; your trust has been violated; and you don’t want to get hurt again. While in the short term running away from the Lord seems to be the easiest option, true healing and peace will only come as you dare to draw near to God and learn who he really is.
I want to tell you that the abuse you suffered, the wrong teachings you received and lived by, grieve the heart of God. He feels your pain; he longs to show you his love, restore you, and replace those lies with truth, truth that will set you free. What you lived through was a distorted view of Christianity, a false gospel, that could not deliver on what it promised.
Under legalism, you were made to feel ashamed, condemned, inadequate. You were always striving, never attaining the goal. You were judged, not loved unconditionally. You were given a false hope: that if you strive hard to be righteous according to the rules of the organization you were with, you might be good enough to earn God’s love and acceptance. But if you fail, you will lose God’s protection and blessing, and Satan will destroy you. That is not biblical Christianity! The gospel is good news. Good news is something that has already happened; not something that you have to do. The good news is that Jesus has done it all for you. He has fulfilled the requirements of the law on your behalf; he has paid the penalty for your sin; God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21) You cannot become righteous by following the law. Jesus, having fulfilled the law, now offers you his righteousness as a free gift! Just by asking for it! No, we don’t deserve it, but’s that’s grace! You would have to obey every single bit of the law for your whole life to be considered righteous, but you can’t do that. In fact, no one can, except for Jesus! If you are a Christian, you are righteous in God’s sight, simply because you were given the righteousness of Christ when you believed in him. You did nothing to earn it, and you can do nothing to lose it. You can’t add to it, either! What can you add to perfect righteousness?
Furthermore, God’s love for you is not conditional upon your obedience or behaviour. His love, agape, is unconditional. The Bible says that God is love. [God] is patient, kind, doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast, isn’t proud, does not dishonour others, isn’t self-seeking; isn’t easily angered; keeps no record of wrongs; doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices with the truth; always protects; always trusts; always hopes; always perseveres; never fails. That’s the God of the Bible! He loves you not because you perform so well, but because he created every detail about you. You are his workmanship; you belong to him. His very essence is one of unfailing love. Nothing can ever separate you from his love, including anything that you do or don’t do! Rest in his love for you, and you will find emotional stability in your life.
Perhaps what drew you into a legalistic lifestyle was the need to be significant, to achieve something, to be important. Again, legalism cannot meet that need. The best it could do was give you a pharisaical sense of self-importance if you compared yourself with other “less godly” Christians, but that’s not the real deal. It falls so short of the humble confidence you can have when you are following the leading of the Holy Spirit in serving others with your God-given gifts. He has a plan and purpose for you, and he knows how to expertly weave together both the good and the bad experiences of your life to reveal his heart to you and make you a blessing to others. Serving God is not a burdensome, impossible obligation as portrayed by legalism; it is a joyful opportunity to participate with him in making a difference in someone’s life.
What about homeschooling? If you have homeschooled under legalism, should you put your children in public school instead? There is not one right answer to that question, other than to seek the Lord for his will for each of your children. Homeschooling is a very good option if it has a foundation of grace rather than legalism, but it is not an obligation. Perhaps that child will thrive in a different setting. If you do homeschool, don’t put your trust in it to achieve a certain outcome. Recognize it as an opportunity to love your child, help them to discover their God-given talents, and model faith in Christ. Learn to lean on the Lord’s direction rather than blindly following some homeschooling guru.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13