I’m a rules person. I try not to drive more then the ‘acceptable’ five miles an hour over the speed limit. I try be on time (meaning early) for my appointments. I don’t lie about my age to get a cheaper rate; nor did I ever do that for with my child. I want people to think well of me and see me a ‘virtuous’ or ‘law-abiding.’
I’m also a horrific sinner. Yup, me the ‘rules girl’ have broken all the rules, one way or another. And for many years I have carried the guilt and shame of my past with me. Yes, I have confessed most of those lapses in following the rules and as open as I have been about God’s forgiveness of my actions, I still let them define me. I still stopped short of embracing my ministry because someone might unearth and reveal my sins for the world.
Fear can be so crippling. If we let it, it will run our lives. It will cause us to do things out of emotional blackmail and often drive us to make poor decisions, or worse yet, no decision. It can stop us from stepping into the life God intends for us (a calling) because we think we aren’t good enough, not worthy to stand, or that our past has left us irreparably damaged.
That’s where an over reliance on the laws and rules of a church, religious philosophy, or old traditions can become a crutch and way for us to prove to ourselves and others that we are “saved” and “transformed.” When we become so bound to the symbols of tradition that faith is no longer the most important thing, we miss out of God’s message for us. When we become too tied to obedience of those rules and regulations, we run the risk of taking our eyes off of Christ and his very simple command to love. When we become afraid that our sins will shock our fellow believers rather then they will see the way God has redeemed our lives; our fear stops us from other’s coming to believe.
In Colossians 2 the apostle Paul warns against letting rules keep one from experiencing new life in Christ. The foundation of our faith must be in the words of Jesus Christ and the message he shared through those gifted to hear from God (you and me). The roots of our faith are first with him and not some religious order of worship or some Old Testament regulation. Man-made traditions really don’t matter, especially if they block us from fully embracing the Holy Spirit or keep us controlled by more rules.
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
So how then do I change from a rules and regulation girl to a living with Christ girl? it starts with seeking spiritual wisdom. It includes accepting, as Paul says in Ephesians 1, that I am blameless in the eyes of God, he has adopted me into his family, I am forgiven, redeemed, and sealed with the Holy Spirit. And in seeking spiritual wisdom I will grow in the belief and acceptance of God’s love for me, and for you. I will put myself under the authority of Christ and his commandment to love God with every breath and fiber of my being and then to love others in the way I want to be loved, which is as God loves me. When I keep my eyes on that one basic ‘rule’ for life, the other things of religion are just window dressings.
Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be in in ‘fellowship’ or ‘communion’ with others; meaning we should gather as Christians in support of our faith. After all Christ is about relationship; us with him and us with others. We can never go deeper in our relationship with Jesus if we don’t spend time with his words and in prayer, which includes in prayer with and for others.
For me, I am finding that I need to loosen the chains of order and allow in the unexpected moving of the Holy Spirit. For me that means a lighter walk. I have never done that because I have always been worried about what others will think. What if I raise my hands to praise God in church? What if I clap my hands in joy? What if I shout “amen” or speak in my prayer language in my group? What if I want to sing and dance out of joy for the transformation of my life? What if…What if…they disapprove or think I am nuts?
Well, today that is okay. Today I commit to follow my Lord Jesus Christ with J O Y. Today I commit to embrace the gifts God has given me and to use them for the glory of God. Today, I am setting aside the rules and regulations which man has created over the past 2,000 years and go with Christ’s command to love abundantly on myself and others.
I pray that you will lighten your walk and find the joy of living in Christ. I pray you will find a group of fellow believers who will encourage you to go deeper with Christ. I pray that you experience the blessing of the Holy Spirit blowing the roof off for Jesus. I pray that you will put Jesus before anything else and in doing so you will find forgiveness, redemption, transformation, and a joy like no other.