Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why I'm Going to Break the Rules

I am going to break the rules because it is inevitable that rules will be broken.

Bible reading plans will straggle.

Relationships will be disheveled.

Purity commitments will be infringed.

Promises will be abandoned.

Unhealthy habits will be devoured.

Marriages will be desecrated.

Church attendance will be flighty.

Rules will be broken.

As many times as I have messed up, I qualify to be an expert in breaking rules. I've failed many times at many things. Seriously.

Marian Ellis says that rules will be broken, but visions will be lived. (She also has a great sermon about it that you can listen to here.) So instead of operating in a rule mindset, like the Pharisees, we should always strive to live by a vision that is grounded in the love of Jesus Christ.

Ironically the times I've messed up the worst were the times I was trying too hard. The more and more you try to follow rules...the more pressure is on you...the crazier it drives you...and eventually you break. We become too worried about not being wrong that we can't just be right. It is both legalistic and detrimental. A ruthless cycle.

“Legalism says God will love us if we change. The gospel says
God will change us because He loves us."-Tullian Tchividjian

When we operate in the mindset that Jesus is not this, Jesus did not preach this, His sermon was not this, we should not do this, we can not do this...we are going to fall short. Every single time. Romans 3:23 says that we have all sinned and we all fall short of the glory of the God. As believers, our world is full of broken people who serve a perfect God. Thankfully God got us out of our mess by giving us the gift of Jesus Christ. He is our only Hope, and I believe that God honors when we acknowledge that we can only do things through and with Him. When we really get this, I think that is when He can work in and through us the most.

When you believe to your innermost core in Jesus and what He did on the becomes a lifestyle. When it becomes a vision rather than rules, you find yourself wanting to study the Bible. You want more of Him and less of this world. You actually want to live only by faith. You find yourself wanting to grow deeper in your relationship with the Lord without any obligation or checklist.

Checklist faith is dangerous.

When we live by checklist faith, we distort the Gospel. We become Pharisees. I know that I've been one and still can be one. Ann Voskamp tells of this unsparing phenomenon: "The modern-day Pharisees focus on avoiding sin and not on ardently loving our Savior but the truth is ardent love for your Savior is the most direct path of sin avoidance." In Matthew 23, Jesus spoke 7 times against the Pharisees and their legalistic ways. Our closeness to God should have an inverse relationship with legalism. Our ultimate goal in having a relationship with the Lord is to follow Him, love Him, and live out His plan for us. We do this best by looking up and forward with a clear vision. We should strive to have 20/20 spiritual vision because this is what propels us into our destiny. This is how we fulfill our God-given dreams. This is how we pursue our real purpose...we look to Jesus, who is the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

I love the Message version of Galatians 5:22-23:
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Love for others. Perseverance. Compassion. Basic holiness. These are the things we need in our lives. With these things, we can live unforced by rules. Who needs rules when you have this lifestyle leading the way? Just like the passage says, when we live by this vision, we direct our energy wisely. Our time on this earth is limited, so we can't really afford to not manage our time and energy well. We can't wander around aimlessly. We must make every single day count. When we live by vision, there is less chaos, less crazy, less mess. More order, more grace, more love. Vision keeps us from staying stuck too long where we don't need to be. There is a time and place to move on...even if we just take it a step at a time. Vision sustains us when the going gets tough, when the rules get redundant, and life is just demanding. When we pray for and receive vision, we are empowered to overcome obstacles.

Will we be motivated by legalism or by love? I pray that we will stop making excuses and become visionaries. I pray that we will have simple faith because this is all it is ultimately: love God and love others. Let's stop being blinded by moral checklists and open our eyes to love and grace...even if it means that we have to break the rules.

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