What does Reformed really mean?

If you are like where I used to be, and immediately think upon hearing the word, reformed, “Oh, mercy,” this post is for you.

To me, reformed equated to a mess load of law-based rules that left little to no room for anything individualistic. It equated to a mess load of tradition and ritual which left me empty and wanting. It also held within it a huge amount of what sounded to me like a lot of misogyny.

Where this perspective was birthed, originated in how I was raised, as well as whom I was raised by.

  1. My mother, whom it is no fault to her, was highly abused in her life prior to marrying my father. From this, a feministic mentality developed and was passed onto me. Also, the healthy doses of emotional and mental abuses only deepened the wound of this perspective on life. Therefore, I developed a deeply rooted disdain for any man being in authority – particularly in my life. Because all I knew of it was a very neglecting and angry male image in the form of my father, who enables my mother’s behavior.
  2. Also, within the Reformed tradition of Judaism, I was raised with a very law-based approach to God that, “If I do, xyz, I am in God’s good graces. But if I don’t do, xyz, I will be punished by God.” This only deepened my resentment toward male authority.

Yet, boys (and some men) were the only ones I felt safe around. Women, I didn’t trust as far as I could throw – which wasn’t far.

So here I was left with this yearning for God, but I looked at Him through the only lens I could – the one given to me by the lens handed down to me, along with experiences and upbringing I had.

Yet, I was always left dry and empty – and yearning for more – but I couldn’t figure just how to break that proverbial ceiling to get to Him. I had developed a huge disdain toward the majority of Christians (except a family that was very close to ours that was Baptist) due to the discrimination I endured as a Jew, and that my father did as well concerning his Jewish faith coming under attack from employers. So, boiled down, I trusted nearly no one in my life; nevermind God.

But for crying out loud, I wanted to know Him. I craved for a relationship with Him, but that’s just not taught in Judaism – particularly the Reformed tradition.

So fast forward to where I am, accepting Christ at 26 years old in 2003, and I think I got it all figured out. I accepted Christ through a very charismatic, prosperity gospel that promised my life would be superiorly better with Him and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything anymore. My life would become a cake walk, and I’d never had to struggle again.

What a load I was fed, and that I bought into, and I could have easily abandoned Christ altogether and gone along my merry way. But I didn’t. Instead, I dug my heels in and held on tight.

Fast forward to today, through the process of years of recovery, counseling, and my own private studies, God has sorted out the mess that was in my head. I still struggle at times, due to the temptations to go backward to a feministic and rebellious mindset based upon my own experiences, feelings, ideas, etc, but I have found myself in a reformed based structure to my faith.

But it’s not in the way I was raised.

See, I’ve learned that there are vast differences between the way Jewish people utilize a reformed structure, and how Christian’s embrace a reformed structure to living out God’s word.

  • The Jewish way of living a reformed way of life is based solely on God’s law. Follow the structure of His rules, everything is good. But diverge from His structure, and everything is very bad.
  • The Christian way of living a reformed way of life is based on God’s graceful fulfillment of His law through Jesus Christ. Follow His Son, no matter what you face, He will get you through; because your eternal life is sealed in your redemption found in Christ.

The Word “reform” means, “to rebuild, reconstruct, recreate; to form again, change, transform, alter; to bring (a person) away from an evil course of life.”

It’s a way of living that is restructured – re-formed – into a new likeness. (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

So boiled down, all reformed means is…a new way of structured living. But, concerning the Christian life, it’s a new way of living with Christ, according to God’s word revealed [only] in scripture. It doesn’t hinge on anyone’s interpretation of it, for God’s word is authoritative even though we experience so many painful things in this world.