Throughout my entire life, childhood to the present, I would characterize myself as a stringent rule follower. Of course, there have been specific seasons of life where I felt the need to test my boundaries, but for the most part, I have always managed to walk the line.
Now that I am almost thirty, and will eventually be in a position to set my own rules for my own children, I am left wondering: What’s the point?
Why do we have guidelines in the first place? Is it for safety reasons? Sometimes. Is it for protection? Occasionally. But in all honesty, aside from these isolated practical reasons, I can’t help but think that, sometimes, rules are only in place for the sole reason of testing obedience.
2 Chronicles 30:19
“…according to the rules of the sanctuary.” – NIV
As believers, and definitely for non-believers, our culture has a tendency to get the letter of the law confused with the substance of God’s heart. Yes, it is well known that we all have some sort of church tradition or Christian methodology that provides us with the rules we follow. After all, these are the guidelines that maintain our morality and teach us how to conform to the heart of Christ.
What Christians fail to observe, however, is one simple fact: Whatever is done in legalism – at the expense of spiritual vitality and true worship – troubles Jesus profoundly. The Lord is never pleased when His children choose form over substance.
God is holy, and the objective for any believer is to conform to that holiness. Due to our sinful nature in a fallen world, this also means that we must learn to place restrictions on our behavior and our tendency to follow godless impulses. But these restraints can never become the essence of our faith.
Faith is never about restrictions, it is about following His character. Faith is never about rules, it is about obedience. Lastly, faith is never about limitations, it is about our heart…and His.