Whatsoever Magazine

Rule #1: There are no rules

Posted on: October 10, 2006

I remember, many years ago, seeing a film adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s fairytale, Pinocchio. One scene in particular stands out in my memory. The wild and independent little puppet Pinocchio has run away and soon joins a stream of boys travelling—in heady delirium—to the Land of Toys. The coach driver delivering the boys to their destination sends the hyperactive boys into even more of a spin by loudly announcing:
“There’s one thing all you boys need to know. Rule number one is: there are no rules!”

What is so universally off-putting about rules? Why is it that knowing we aren’t allowed to do something suddenly endows that forbidden thing with an air of fascination and mystery?

The simplest answer is that man, by nature, is contrary. It began with Adam and Eve. Once God told them that one tree—just one—in the garden of Eden was forbidden, that was it. That tree was the only one they thought about. It was the object of their imaginings and the focus of their plans. Trees were only a fairly recent invention, but never had they received that much attention. And soon it was all over. Adam and Eve gave in to the craving, broke the rule, and the rest is… well, history. You know the story.

Recently at a church Bible study, we watched a video which sent camera crews out onto city streets with the goal of interviewing random city dwellers. They asked various non-churched young people their views of Christianity, and a large majority of kids claimed that, among other things, Christianity was all about rules and laws.

Funnily enough, we Christians are sometimes guilty of thinking the same thing. We draft up our faith as a set of rules and regulations, a list of what we’re allowed to do and what we’re not allowed to do. Sometimes, we forget that Christianity is not about a list of laws, but about a relationship. Christianity does not mean following a specific set of guidelines and getting into heaven by completing the entire checklist. We don’t ‘earn’ rewards like boy scouts get badges: one for helping an old lady across the street, one for a random act of kindness, another for refraining from swearing, and a special award for dressing modestly. It’s not all about that.

So does this mean that rules and guidelines are unimportant? Not at all! God Himself gave the Israelites the ten commandments, and whole books of guidelines for pure and godly living. In those days, before the Messiah had come, holiness was the only way to walk with God.

And it is still so. We must worship Him with our very lives, following the example of Jesus, and seeking God’s Word to find specific guidelines for the ways we should live our lives, holy and pleasing to Him.

But that’s where the difference between the world’s view and our view of Christianity lies. We don’t follow laws, rules, and structures because we might not get into heaven without them. We make choices and model our behaviour because God is our amazing Father and we just want to do things that make Him smile. We want to live lives that are pleasing to Him. Ultimately, following those rules won’t save us. They may help us stay on the straight and narrow way, but, without Jesus, godly works are nothing.

Does this mean we don’t follow rules? Does this mean that the ten commandments are a useless thing of the past? Do we no longer have to consider others? No, but we do need to look at our motives. Are we making choices and doing things because we feel that it’s what we must do? When our hearts are full of love for the Lord, no sacrifice, no step of obedience, no conviction will seem like a rule we must buckle under; instead, the choices we make and the guidelines we follow will be like gifts given back to God, because we love Him and this is the best we can offer. A man will fight against the shackles of slavery, but he will do anything for a beloved kinsman.

…H.O. said Alice wasn’t a lady… Then he called her a disagreeable cat, and she began to cry.
…So Dicky said, “Let her alone and say you’re sorry, or I’ll jolly well make you!”
So H.O. said he was sorry. Then Alice kissed him and said she was sorry, too; and after that H.O. gave her a hug, and said, “Now I’m really and truly sorry,” so it was all right
.*

Love makes difficult tasks easy to carry out—turning them from orders into offerings..

Danielle Carey
reprinted from Whatsoever Magazine, Volume 8, #1
*from The Treasure Seekers, by Edith Nesbit
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