This is the "Week of the Ring" at Teen Mania's Honor Academy. The culmination of this week is a banquet where each intern will recieve an honor ring. According to wikipedia:
Interns receive a ring to symbolize commitment to a lifelong pursuit of God. This ring is called the Honor Ring. The inscription on the ring is Hebrew for "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." This refers to the Academy's passionate pursuit of a relationship with Jesus Christ. From 2005-2007 they used a unique ring that bears the Honor Academy crest and says "Semper Honorablus," but went back to the Hebrew ring with the 2008 class.The Hebrew people also had something to "symbolize commitment to a lifelong pursuit of God." They were proud of it and even after Christ came, many thought it gave them a special status as "elite" Christians.
It was called circumcision.
And strangely, Paul got really mad about it. He seemed to think it was not at all a symbol of the Gospel, but actually an entirely different Gospel. In fact, he uses some of the strongest langauge in the New Testament and wishes anyone who preaches this Gospel would be eternally condemned. (Galatians 1)
The issue was that when Gentiles became believers, some Jewish folks insisted that they also become circumcised in order to fully become Christian. The Jews felt that this OT law was still binding, but Paul demolishes that idea in the book of Galatians by contrasting law vs. grace, the Old Covenant vs. the New Covenant. Our relationship with God through Jesus is enough and we can do nothing, wear nothing, say nothing to make it any more real or true.
Now, I know what you might be thinking. Teen Mania leadership never actually says you have to wear an honor ring in order to be saved. This might be true. And yet, I have some serious questions about how the honor ring reflects or distorts the true Gospel.
The ring is inscribed with the Scripture, "I am my beloved's and He is mine." What kind of message are you sending when you put yourself in the place of authority to both bestow and take away the symbol of that truth?
Is an intern no longer beloved of God if their honor ring has been taken away?I would hope that Teen Mania leaders would say that the absence of a ring does not indicate that an intern has lost their standing with Christ or been kicked out of the God's family. And yet, what they say in words, they contradict with their actions.
Has an intern lost their righteousness if they have sinned or done something "dis-honorable?"
Are they no longer a member of God's family?
If the ring has no bearing on your status as a Christian, then why even go through the process of making you earn something that symbolizes your relationship with God (which you already had before you became an intern)? When an intern does something "dis-honorable" why do you take away the symbol of their relationship with Christ? The clear message you are sending is that a person's relationship with God and their righteousness continually fluctuates based upon what they do. This could not be further from the truth.
The idea that you can achieve a special status of Christianity or that "honor" is something that you attain by working hard and having enough discipline is just....well...its a disgusting pile of dog shit that will pollute your life. (Phil. 3:8)
Your good works, your righteousness, your honor are all about as beautiful and awesome as a dirty, used tampon. (Isaiah 64:6)
If the Bible refers to our accomplishments as the modern day equivalent of shit and menstrual pads - then why are we so intent with having the best shit and the best dirty pads??? Those aren't exactly things to aspire to.
What is the Gospel?
God loves us. God forgives us. God embraces us.
God gives us His righteousness and the ability to love and reflect Him based on His grace in our lives.
So let's quit acting like we are better than other people. Let's quit acting like we have honor and we have character based on what we have done. Let's embrace the real Gospel of freedom and grace based on a foundation of faith in what somebody else has done.
And remember, no human in the entire world has the right or ability to give or take away your relationship with God.
Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law (aka being honorable) or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
v.5 - Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law (aka live honorably) or because you believe what you heard?