Monte Hunt – Worship Leader
“Will I have to change my lifestyle and follow a bunch of new rules?”
Quite often this is the most common real life question, among others, that people ask when they are considering becoming a follower of Jesus. And it’s a fair question to ask. After all, who really likes to change? It is certainly not what motivates me to rise and shine in the morning.
Likewise, many people look at Christianity (and most religions in general) as a list of rules to uphold to make you feel better about yourself. Again, a reasonable conclusion drawn by many based on what they see of people who claim to be “religious.” Also, many who read the Bible tend to notice it is filled with a lot of “do not’s” with a few “do’s” peppered here and there.
“So I need to change the way I live, do the do’s in the Bible, and avoid all the do not’s, and I’m in? I can follow Jesus, then?”
While this is the natural way of thinking in other aspects of life, in this case it is actually backwards. We don’t change ourselves in order to become good enough to be in the Jesus clique. Rather, we place our trust in Him, and then He miraculously changes us. But that conversation is for another time. What I’d like us to consider today is why all the rules? What’s the point? Doesn’t God want us to enjoy life? To the last question I say: YES!!! Oh does He ever!
First, consider that God cannot break His own rules or laws; it goes against His very nature (Psalm 89:34). God is not some hypocritical, cosmically debaucherous superpower. His rules for us are for Him as well.
Second, consider how people respond when someone breaking one of God’s rules impacts them. They are lied to, stolen from, etc. Anyone enjoy being on the receiving end of that? I sincerely doubt it. We are quick to justify our own “ungodly” behaviors toward others, but are equally quick to judge those who do the same to us. And our judgment is not typically rooted in them sinning (i.e. breaking God’s law). Rather, the root of our indignation is found in the fact that we just plain don’t like what they’re doing to us!
Third, consider God’s motivation for giving us His do’s and do not’s. If you have children, are the rules you lay out for them primarily for your benefit or theirs? Brush your teeth, do your homework, don’t hit, respect your elders. My guess is if you raise a child without the rules I just listed you may wind up with a grown adult who is a high school drop out that’s in jail because he punched a cop who pulled him over for speeding and his teeth are falling out. A loving parent establishes rules and boundaries for their children. Our heavenly Father is no different. In fact, since He is perfect, His rules for us are perfect as well!
Last, consider a place where the rules God has laid out for us in His Word (the bible) are followed perfectly. Imagine a world with no keys or locks, no security cameras or law enforcement, no contracts or lawyers. Imagine feeling completely safe and secure, everywhere, at all times, knowing that every person you come in contact with cares as much for you as they do for themselves. Wow! I can think of a place like that, and so can God – it’s called heaven, my friends. And our loving, perfect, heavenly Father has given to us His perfect laws for us to be able to, if just for a moment, experience heaven from time to time here on earth.
I hope after reading this your perspective on God’s rules and sin (breaking those rules) has been broadened. Perhaps right now you look at these rules and think, “I should not.” But try instead to look at it from God’s viewpoint of “you need not.” God wants your life to be filled to the brim with love, joy, and peace. If lying and cheating to close the next deal on your business, sleeping around, or getting drunk gave you true love, joy, and peace I’m sure He’d be all for it. But those things don’t do that. Those things leave you and me feeling the opposite: unloved, empty, and restless.
Friends, the Evil One wants you to believe that God’s rules are there to take life away from you and me. But the truth is God loves us. He really, really does. Therefore He has given us His law to show us that we need Him, and to show us how to live the best life possible.
For the [enemy] comes to steal, kill, and destroy; [Jesus] has come that you may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
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Epilogue: much of what is discussed above is explained far better by the apostle Paul in his letter to his fellow contemporary Christians in Rome. Check out the book of Romans, chapter 6 on this subject for further study.