Saturday, October 6, 2012
To not break my toys
I often hear this statement from honest people and have wondered about it myself at times. "Christians state that we live under freedom now, instead of the law. That's hypocrisy because there are still so many laws given to us that we must obey. Don't look at this website, don't listen to that music, don't have a relationship with this person and don't dress in those clothes. We call ourselves free but we're still under the thumb and that's just delusional and crazy."
I understand where they are coming from because in the past, I've been made sad and confused by people who sweep into my place and say, "You shouldn't let your son watch these popular cartoons because they're evil and God will remove His blessing from your family," or "You shouldn't write fiction because it's vanity." (Little do they know.) I think these people, who honestly have good intentions, don't realise that they are misrepresenting God's nature and plans for us. These Ned Flanders type of Christians may drive honest seekers to say this sort of thing. "God is the same as the Pharisees. He's a killjoy who wants to sap our fun and freedom. What's the point of moving from one boss to another? I'm my own person."
I've grappled with all this and decided that the confusion lies in the fact that the word "rules" is one of those with two different meanings. First, there are "rules" which some dictator imposes, Hitler style, with the message, If these aren't adhered to, I'm gonna punish you big time! But the second meaning is more to do with principles and the natural laws of cause and effect. If this action happens, this result will transpire, so it's in your own best interest not to do it. That meaning takes all the bossiness out of it.
Say I make a little toy car for my son, Blake, out of scraps and remnants, then give it to him to play with. I may say, "Hold on, don't turn it that way or you'll break it. It's only designed to be turned the other way."
Then, he could choose to take my words as imperial and demanding and say, "You've given it to me and I'll use it the way I want to." Or, he could understand that I'm not criticising him but giving him the instruction for his own good and for the long-term benefit of the car.
Thinking this way, I find it easier to conclude that it's the same with God's rules and laws. He's the designer of this thing called "life" that we're living. Paying attention to the way He tells us it's made to be used is common sense. We may ignore Him and say, "I'm a free agent and you've given this life and body to me. I'll play with them the way I feel like." In this context, that seems by far the sillier reaction.
So I'm challenged to listen to Him when He says, "Hey, you're not supposed to put fear, unforgiveness, greed, adultery and anger into that thing. It'll stop it working properly because that's not the way I've designed it. You'll break it if you keep going." It makes perfect sense. Perhaps our biggest challenge is to have the wisdom to know what we're looking at when we come across it. Is it one of God's genuine laws and commands that are straight from Him and for our own good? Or is it the silly, judgmental notion of some petty-dictator who honestly thinks he's doing God's business but is really operating with the mind and heart of a Pharisee?