What is the big deal about the word “rules”? In the context of God it is a big deal. As Christians, we are governed by God’s law. As an atheist you are not. I see little differentiation between the use of the word law and rules. In the context of anything, laws are rules that govern how we live. Some, like my colleague Kevin, would say too much focus on the word “rules” dilutes the relationship aspect of God. I see it as just the opposite. Rules strengthen our relationship with God when followed. Some would also see rules as the reason that atheists, agnostics, or phony Christians would reject God. That somehow the very utterance of the word “rules” creates strife and causes an atheist to throw their hands up and say “well I no longer believe in God now!” I find this to be total nonsense.
It is the existence of rules that cause strife. No matter what we call “the rules” the fact that we have to live our life according to God’s law is what causes the separation. Some, like Kevin, would say that we have to blow up the myth surrounding the word rules. I disagree. I think that we hold fast to the rules because they allow us to walk in the Word and promise of God. By trying to speak political double talk about the rules we do not honor God.
So let’s look at it this way. As you read the rest of this post feel free to substitute the word rules with any of the following, and see if it doesn’t make sense; law, guidelines, love.
The rules of God are interesting. The rules of God protect us. The rules of God define our relationship with Him, and His with us. If you are a Christian, then God’s rules define boundaries on how you should live your life. One way to look at it is to say that the rules of God are God’s inevitable truth. The truths define our relationship with God. In the same way that your father set rules for you while you were growing up, God has does the same for all of us. Why would God do this? For the same reason that your father did: BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU. It is out love that God defines what is good and what is bad for you. There will be times when you look at the rules and say “this makes no sense”. But as most of us find out eventually, God the Father, knows best. This gives you clear cut direction as to how to live your life.
I think the primary reason anyone will turn their back on God is because of rules. In the same way you broke the rules of your parents when you were a teenager, you decide that you can do without the rules because you think that they are out of touch.
For example, how can a Christian rationalize praying to God about whether or not they should move in with their boyfriend/girlfriend? Perhaps you’re thinking, “Hey, no one gets hurt, so everything is fine.” But the only way to rationalize something like this is by telling themselves that the rules do not apply to them or that God didn’t really mean what He said or, worse yet, to dismiss the existence of God. If the rule maker doesn’t exist, then the rules aren’t real, right?
Ultimately, in order to justify a decision like this example, this person has to ignore God in some way. Otherwise, deep down they know that they are going against what He has asked us to do! A life without God or His guidelines allows you to justify any action you take. Following this line of thinking leads people to believe that there are no consequences, just the immediate pleasure of being in control, and doing what they want. This amounts to glorified excuses that allow them to bend and eventually break the rules. These are the excuses that someone will use to ignor God, defy God, and eventually turn their back on God all together. The issue may be as minor as lying about taxes, or taking something from work. They could be as major as sex out of wedlock, living with a boyfriend/girlfriend, excessive drinking, or drug use. The outcome is the same.
We are faced with decisions every day, and every day the Devil has his victories. The question then becomes, will you be another trophy for Satan or will you hold your ground? We lead a hard life because of what is demanded of us. The secret we know as Christians is that accepting Christ and staying within God’s boundaries leads to an abundant life (cf. John 10:10). The Devil knows this, which is why he loves it when we fail (misery loves company – see John 10:10 for this also).
Today people who fall away from Christ (backslide) are honored, those who stand by Christ are ridiculed. Will you be able to hold your ground? Will you be able to stand with God and his rules? I am praying that we all will. Are you prepared?