Rules say that you do this and you don’t do that. Period. Rules further imply that if you do this and don’t do that as instructed by said rules, you are good. If you don’t do this and do do that, breaking said rules, then you are bad. In extreme cases, rules broken translates into “you are going to hell.”

Foolishness. We are all going to hell no matter what we do with the rules. Really. Eternal separation from the One true and perfectly holy God is an equal opportunity consequence of our choice to be independent, our choice to be addicted, our choice to be stubborn, our choice to be self-seeking, our choice to be any of the things we choose over being wholly dependent upon and fully devoted to God. (In other words, SIN.)

God believes in choice — not because we have the innate ability to make good ones, but because without the opportunity to make bad choices (even wrong choices), we miss out on the ability to make good ones and right ones.

Rules help us see how much we don’t like to be told what to do. Rules demonstrate our tendencies to make bad choices. Rules remind us of our rebellious natures — rebellion that displays itself in so many different shades of me, myself and I we could each open a paint store.

I’m not saying that we don’t need rules. Our very rebelliousness combined with immaturity or ignorance make rules very helpful things. But rules won’t ultimately make us better. They mostly keep us alive and give us a chace at getting better.

God makes us better. He does it through Jesus whose death took the rightful penalty for our sinfulness and obliterated it, and through the Holy Spirit whose presence in and among us gives us the ability to understand God’s heart and mind as well as the ability to make right choices. He doesn’t inflict this on us. He invites us into a relationship with Him and offers Himself to us in relationship.

3 thoughts on “Rules

  1. Dorothea Lander says:

    Gotta wonder who, or IF someone, put a burr under your saddle, Ruth, by insisting on rules instead of grace. If so, I’m sorry that you have to endure such nonsense. Grace is so central to who we are in Christ. How can we return to rules? Paul had to talk to some folks about that back in the day. Seems like rule-making often gets out of control when leaders get scared, desperate or don’t know what else to do.

    The Willowcreek Leadership Summit had some GREAT stuff to say on that subject on both secular and spiritual levels. In the spiritual realm, Jeff Manion talked about the Land Between, when people find themselves in broken, sin-wrecked, not-there-yet, I-can’t-carry-this-load-any-longer, 40-years-in-the-wilderness times and how fertile that soil is for spiritual transformation. It’s a place where faith can either die or flourish, as we choose. But rules won’t fix anything in the wilderness because God is looking for something to happen in hearts.

    Adam Hamilton’s discussion of When Leaders Fall, spoke so frankly about rules and grace…the aim of the Christian life being sanctification, that each of us are tempted and suffer consequences when we fail…but that we must employ grace and work toward restoration afterwards. He didn’t have five rules, but five basics to help leaders avoid falling…very practical ways to direct our thoughts to God when tempted and how to get back up and move forward, always looking for restoration. Love it!

    My fav for the secular speakers was the CEO of Gore talking about leadership emerging in their org as gifted people gain “followership” from their peers. Peers vote on those making largest contribution/s to the success of the org. Pay is even based on that instead of seniority, yearly raises, popularity, etc. They have a lattice, rather than ladder model of leadership so information can get to the right person in the quickest time without becoming lost while making its way up through low, low-mid, mid, mid-high, higher, highest leadership levels where it needed to go to begin with. She talked about their situational hierarchy (who has the knowledge leads in a situation) as opposed to formal hierarchy and that they never let a “plant” grow larger than 250 people. Their research showed collaborative work decreasing when a building houses more than 250 people. Fascinating research. The best bubbles to the top so they don’t have to go out and hire talent. Her business model is fascintaing…but I digress way far off target…this post was about rules and grace. Sorry, I got carried away in all the excitement of research and successes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Loved your post. You are absolutely right…again! ๐Ÿ™‚

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