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.