Rules. We all have them- in school, at work, on the road, at home and in church. Rules are a set of guidelines or perameters designed to create order. Give me a list of rules to follow and I am a happy girl! (We’ll discuss in a future post how this is also one of my greatest weaknesses; but today, lets not!)
I’d typically label myself as a right-brained thinker, you know the type: artistic, free, intuitive, thoughtful. But I’m just wired differently in this area. As a teenager, my list of “strikes” included 1- being “just friends” with a guy my parents did not approve of (12 years later they STILL talk about him. Nothing dies in the Harris Home) which probably led me to 2- nearly flunking Algebra and 3- pulling up to a party that my parents told me I could not go to, sitting in my car and then driving away because my heart was feeling the heavy weight of conviction (this will be the first time my mother ever hears about this… so hey, Mom! I DIDN’T GO IN, OK?!) Then came the downward spiral of my college rebellion- I mean, I was out of control. Get this, I was texting after curfew in my dorm bunk.
But let me throw it way back for a moment- remember the card system in elementary school? If you stayed on green, you were fine, yellow was a warning and red meant a call home. Yikes. Well, I was a green girl 99.9999% of the time. But this ONE time in 4th grade, after sneaking into my mom’s candy drawer in her classroom, I was caught chewing gum in class and got demoted to yellow. Let’s just say, ya girl was green for the rest of her primary school life AND I still get nervous chewing gum in public.
Go ahead, laugh!! Because it IS funny. To the wreckless, this may sound strange, but I love rules. Staying “in the lines” comes naturally to me. This isn’t because i’m weak or a follower, but it’s because I find freedom and peace within those lines!
And although I love having order NOW, I mostly just loved not being in “trouble” as a child. So if I’m honest, I was better behaved in public, with my teachers and peers, than I was at home. I was more concerned with people’s perception of me. You may or may not relate- but we ALL know “the good girl”. It’s a mom approved label that most people want to have. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be “good”; or more appropriately, striving daily to be HOLY. But as I’ve grown older and as my relationship with Christ has grown deeper, I’ve learned a very important lesson: the “good girl” act is the fastest way to empty worship and frankly a fake relationship with Jesus Christ. We are unable to have true fellowship with Jesus when we have a trivial focus. The moment we start caring so much about the acts of religion and rituals and we’re more concerned about whether or not the new family at church thinks we have it all together because of our lofty “standards”- there’s a problem. And the Bible straight up addresses the issue in Matthew 23:27-28:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
At the snap of a finger, we are able to slap an Instagramesque filter along with a quotable caption on our lives, and it makes us REALLY good at creating this masterpiece of a facade that LOOKS beautiful, but our insides are as dead men’s bones. We’re dried up. We are depleted of nutrients, life and light. We may have these moments of satisfaction and pride as long as we’re staying within the perameters and we can keep up appearances- but deep down we’ve lost the joy. We’ve lost true, authentic fellowship because we’ve made the rules a god and have neglected developing our relationship with God the Creator.
Remember, rules and structure are important. But how do we get out of the hypocrisy that can develop from the rules we follow when we haven’t been cultivating our relationship with God? How do we become Christians with pure hearts and sincere worship?
It’s as simple as this: LOOK UP. Stop comparing yourself to the pictures that your favorite bloggers post and look to the beautiful picture the Word of God paints of His Son. Stop worrying about what Susie thinks of you and be concerned with whether or not GOD is pleased with you. Stop caring so much about YOURSELF and care more about YAHWEH.
So go on, have your rules- they are important (I’d be lost without the structure)- but remember, they mean nothing without the sacred relationship we can have when we spend time in fellowship with Jesus Christ.