Over at Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight has posted a five-part series on “Zealotry”. He defines zealotry as “Zealotry is the Christian theory, never expressed consciously, that if we are more zealous than the Bible we are immune from criticism. After all, weâ€™ve done at the least what the Bible says and more! Zealotry leads to a life that goes beyond the Bible and in so going there is convinced that such a life canâ€™t be wrong.” According to this definition, zealotry is related to legalism, but different. Zealotry would cause me to place fences around the Bible, then assume that all is well if I live beyond the fences. Legalism would then require others to live beyond the fences as well.
While the series as whole is very thought provoking, comment #7 (from someone named David) on Part 4 was especially relevant for me. The following is from that comment:
Did Jesus always do the same thing all the time? Looking at his life he rarely approached situations, people and challenges the same. Can Zealotry often be masking that we dont know the heart of God and cant discern what to do so we fall into a pattern of behaviour that is consistent and easily managed and defined? Getting caught up in routineâ€¦â€¦beuracracyâ€¦â€¦..workaholicismâ€¦â€¦is just a ploy to make us less anxious because we really dont feelhis presence. Activity instead of relationship.
Why do I do the things that I do? Do I do them because I know that it is God’s will? Or do I do them because I have set certain standards for myself, and I assume that if I live according to those standards, then I am in God’s will. How much more refreshing (challenging / frightening) it would be to live according to the revealed will of God at all moments in my life! This is my desire. Of course, that means that I will make mistakes at times… and those mistakes will most likely be public mistakes. Currently, it is easy to live a “righteous” life publicly, because my fences protect me, especially from “criticism” from other people. But, perhaps there are times when I pass by the injured person on my way to do “God’s work” in the temple… everyone in the temple certainly appreciates my “service”… but what about God?