How’s your relationship with keeping the rules? Rules in general?
You’ll probably have one of two natural bents: 1. You just want to know the rules so you can keep them or 2. You like to break the rules a little.
You can imagine which of these I fall into. Ironically most people think that a pastor should want to keep the rules but I don’t really (maybe because I’m also a pastor’s kid?). There’s this thing inside of me that likes to break them a bit, if only to keep things from getting boring… This part is more of a personality thing than a morality thing.
Having told you my dark secret, I have a great relationship with The Rules! How you view rules has everything to do with an assumption you made a long time ago and can depend on many factors such as: the home you grew up in, your parent(s), your working life, your friends, your marriage, your parenting etc etc.
Over time an assumption is formed that will tell you how healthy your relationship with the rules actually is. Generally you will be in the camp that tends to make too many rules or the one that tends to break too many rules.
For the record anyone who doesn’t believe that anybody should make any rules for them because of their amazing-ness or superiority to the rest of us should really have to live in a country where lawlessness rules and fend for themselves. The rest of us understand that certain rules are necessary, though there are those who make far too many rules out of fear or control and that should be avoided as well.
If I see one issue that Christians get stuck on it is this one. Christian or not, you need to figure this out ASAP so your life can run smoothly and be successful.
There are rules for marriage that you can ignore but they always catch up with you. There are parenting principles to follow as well and this is a tricky one because we all think we’re geniuses until our kids turn 16 and we find out how we really did. Disobey the rules in your clinic or firm or organization and you’ll be looking for another job before long. Disobey the rules of friendship and you will be lonely.
There are two types of rules and these are the assumptions people make. If you can get a hold of this it will change your life…
Club Rules VS House Rules
To belong to a golf Club you have to obey the rules FIRST. Pay your dues. Wear the right clothes. Conduct yourself accordingly. Sign a piece of paper to get in. If you break the rules you agreed to before you belonged, you won’t belong for long! It’s not harsh it’s just how this model works, and for good reason.
My girls were born into my House. They belonged first, then we needed some rules to maintain relationships and help them to mature. Relationship first THEN rules. No rules and our relationships would fall apart. No rules and they would grow up with the assumption that they are above the common good and have no need to become useful to the rest of society. No rules and they could never hope to reach their potential.
The common denominator in these two models are Rules of course. House rules in a Club don’t work and neither do Club rules in your House. Everyone knows someone from a home where love and worth were only dispensed when the rules were kept, but that is a terrible way to grow up and damages people for years to come.
I’ll always love my girls no matter what they do, but if they want to eat and live indoors they need to obey rules and get along with everybody. One child should not wreck a home or create havoc or an unsafe situation for the other children. One parent shouldn’t either… different topic for a different day…
So many people view the church (and their relationship with Christ) as if it’s a club. It keeps sinners out in the cold and those who are perceived to keep the rules far too comfortable and unchallenged on the inside. It also doesn’t work.
When people are confronted with the rules they feel unable to keep them all, which is actually quite healthy if you understand something first: you were loved before you could keep the rules… before you even knew about the rules! When you and I were sinners with nothing to offer Jesus died for us. By doing something as terrifically small as believing and receiving the Lordship and sacrifice of Jesus for our sins we were born again. Like into the family born again. Not a thing you could do for yourself. Helpless and dependant on the Father, whose kindness and mercy we had never dreamed of deserving or experiencing… and why? Because we could never keep enough rules or measure up enough to earn what was freely given by a most gracious and perfect Lord: Relationship. You can’t buy that. My daughters could never buy relationship with their mom and dad and they’ll never have to.
The children of Israel were given the ten commandments (and there’s no getting around the fact that God has the right to make rules…), but notice when it happened. After they were delivered from Egypt. In the book of Exodus God makes a statement that just precedes the rules: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
Now this fascinates me to no end! The Israelites natural response would of course have been…”Why?”
We who have experienced the saving power of the cross should echo that every day of our lives! “Why would you do that God? Why, when we had nothing to offer and never would have anything to offer You?”
The rules shouldn’t hang us up in any way. Of course they confront our ridiculous selfishness! Of course we don’t like them! Of course we would do things differently! But when the Greater One starts the relationship and gives us rules to maintain that relationship, as well as relationships with the others in the family, and actually wants us to become useful and mature so He can reach the rest of the world, what other appropriate response could there be than “Yes, Lord!”?
The funny thing is… Erin and I were already a family before we had our girls. We didn’t need them to survive. We were sufficient like so many are who don’t have children and this is sort of how it was with God. He didn’t need us. The wonder of it is that he wanted us as badly as He did! I’ll never get over that!
When your assumption is House Rules it’s easy to obey! We don’t obey to be loved…. we obey because we’re loved!!!