15. Rules, Rules, Rules, Who Rules?
Anyone who knows me well knows I am obsessed with Alice in Wonderland. To be honest with you, the title of this column could have come out of that story. So, what am I talking about?
Do you know what a lot of people say when offered the chance to become a Christian? “Oh, it’s just someone forcing you to follow a set of rules.” This got me thinking. Is this really the perception of Christianity in its entirety?
I went on to think about rules and who follows them; is it true that as Christians we do follow rules? Of course, the biggest set of rules we follow, or at least try to follow, is the Ten Commandments. I went out of a store the other day having left a £1 item in my trolley that had become accidently hidden under my bag. When I went back in to pay for it, they seemed shocked and even thanked me for my honesty, but to me this would have been stealing! I am not perfect at all, I have to say sorry for things, but I like to think I have a sense of good behaviour in the way I present myself and behave as a Christian. This is at least what I strive for.
So, let’s look at this perception of rules. Remove the Christianity, what else do we follow rules on? The law of the land. Most of us pay our bills, rent, mortgage, taxes. When we sign a mobile phone contract we are agreeing to a set of rules. If you read up some of the terms and conditions of the contracts you sign, I think you might be surprised at what some of them contain, and what exactly you are agreeing to. Even those who do not necessarily have a great respect for the law of the land follow the “honour among thieves” rule. We play games constrained and constructed by the rules applied to them, both online and board games amongst other things; we all follow the rules of the road to drive on, or it would be cataclysmic. At the moment we are following lots of rules with regard to this pandemic to keep one another safe. So, why do people have an issue with the way Christians, in essence, simply follow the guidance or rules given to them? In honesty we have less “rules” than the highway code, although the Bible is bigger the rules and direction are incredibly simple. LOVE! To be honest, above all the other guidelines of the Bible, and indeed the 10 commandments, love is the most important one.
I’m sure everyone reading this has heard the saying, “Love hurts”. Have you ever been hurt in love and put up a wall in order to prevent anyone hurting you again? I must confess I have done this a few times in my life. I think sometimes that a wall is put up towards having a faith; in fact I personally did this at one time in my life. I think the issue of following rules is a great cover up for fear of letting that love in, because then you have to let it flow through you and remove the blockage from your heart to let it become a part of you. To let love in, you have to let go, and for many this is scary. The rules are, what they say, stops them from having a relationship with God, but what they really fear is God ‘ruling’ their heart.
So, what as Christians can we do to help? I watched “Charlie’s Angels” recently (yes, another movie quote), their catchphrase is ‘Bring the love’! and that is what we need to do. “Bring the love”. The rules are indeed a side issue, we all follow them and it is certainly not what we are about. If it was just a set of rules with no heart, I know I couldn’t be a part of it. At Shirley Baptist Church, you bring the love!
Final thought – do you have God ruling your heart, or do you feel it is all about following rules? Do you know someone who needs to be shown ‘The Love’?