Have any of you read or seen the play "The crucible" before? I just recently saw it for the first time. It made me really sad, angry, and emotional, which means it was a good play!
For those who haven't seen it, "The Crucible" is about a Puritan village in the fourteenth century. Where everything is very strict, and even the slightest hint of ungodliness, like not remembering your 10 commandments, can be seen as a sin. It shows a totally legalistic side of Christianity, with everyone saying they are "good Christians". The protagonist, John Procter, tries to convince everyone that Christianity is more than just accusing people if they do something wrong, but tragically ends up dying for his belief.
What first struck me was how wrong the village's theology was. Everyone believed that if they did not go to church on Sunday they were not a Christian, if they did not know their commandments they were likely to go to hell, and if the God appointed judge said something, it must be true, as the man is God appointed. As I pondered what it would be like living in those "dark ages" where being a Christian was just all about following rules, I was glad that I was born now instead of then. Now, we know that church is not what saves us, it is Jesus' blood. It is not the commandments that clean us, it is Jesus' sacrifice. Our world is so sinful we acknowledge that even God appointed people can fail and go into ruin.
But thinking that, I was challenged. Because now, we seem to go further. We make out that sin isn't as bad as we thought it was. That God's laws are just meant to be "tried to be followed" but that it actually doesn't really matter because we will fail anyway. That when temptation creeps up on us, God has forgiven us anyway, so we can indulge ourselves for a bit and then ask for forgiveness.
The freedom that Christ has given us is amazing but we have taken it too far. If we use an analogy of a cliff. We are like small children who have just been saved from a deep ditch by Gods hands. but instead of rushing to his safety away from the edge, we tiptoe back near the edge, asking God if we are still ok. We try and get as close to the edge of sin as possible. Then we slip, or the cliff edge breaks, and we fall into the ditch of sin again, where God has to extend his hand and take us out once more.
This just repeats on and on, and God keeps extending his hand. People will say "Yeah, God extends his hand, so it is all ok!". But what if once we fall in the ditch, and we get so caught up, we never look up into the hand that is trying to reach us and get us out. We forget our lifeline out of sin, we reject our saviour for other things?
The crucible is a very tragic story of a community that has taken God's law too far, but we are near the edge of the opposite, taking our freedom too far.
In 500 years or so, our period in time might be the setting for a different play, I just hope they have managed to find the middle ground by then, so they can gasp and squirm when they see our way of life, like we do when we see the totally legalistic society of the crucible.