No Rules, Just Righteousness

I was not exactly the class clown in school but I must admit I was one to flout the rules periodically and it was usually during the fire drills. I suppose I get why there should be NO TALKING during them but I had trouble obeying that rule. Yes, I was the one who got to write “I will not talk during fire drills” umpteen times when I returned to class.

Fast forward to today. The longer I live by faith the more I realize that Christianity is about Christ making me righteous, or in right standing with God, instead of me following the rules, or dos and don’ts, of religion. I don’t even consider Christianity a religion in the sense that religion is “man’s attempt to reach God on his terms” while Christianity is “God’s attempt to reach man on His terms.”

It is religion that stresses rules over relationships and rules without relationships breed rebellion. In my case, I had trouble being quiet during fire drills because I couldn’t relate how chatting with my neighbor jeopardized the success of the fire drill. And making me write that I’d do otherwise did nothing but make me try harder to not get caught again.

I happen to be reading a good book called Packing Light about a couple of friends’ journey across America. One of its messages to me is how their rule making, which usually led to rule breaking, threatened to ruin their trip. And I love this line from author Ally Vesterfelt: “Perhaps if we lay our rule book down, we could hear God whisper back: 'I’m right here, and there’s a whole big, refreshing, frustrating, and satisfying world in front of us. Will you put down your stuff and come enjoy it with Me?'”

As Eugene Peterson so eloquently paraphrased Paul’s words in The Message: “Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.” To paraphrase the words of an Outback commercial: “No rules, just righteousness.”