I don’t make the rules for my neighbor’s children. Sometimes I would like to…. but reality is that for me to go over to their house and tell them they have to be off the street by 8 pm or that they cannot watch TV until their homework is complete won’t work. I have no relationship with them to justify or give me the authority to make their rules.
I don’t build a fence to make my dog — my dog. Dixie is my dog because our son gave her to us (and we paid a substantial vet bill to repair her injured leg). The fence is there to help Dixie understand the boundaries. If she gets outside the fence (it has happened) does she stop being my dog? No. In fact, when she “escapes” we go on an all out hunt to recover her and bring her back. When my son or daughter come over and bring their dogs — do they become my dogs just because they are inside the fence? No, thank goodness!
Here’s the point. Rules stem from a relationship. Rules do not put one into a relationship.
So why do we continually fall for Satan’s trap of thinking we have to obey all the rules or that we have to be “good enough” to be in relationship with God?
When the Hebrews found themselves at Mount Sinai God noted that “I am YOUR God and you are MY people”. This was before the big 10 rules have been laid out. God intervened in the culture and economy of Egypt and brought them out. He asked them to do one thing — trust. Eat a meal of lamb, really choice lamb, and put the blood on your door frame (Passover). Sure — it makes little sense, but trust me.
When the call came to leave — those who had trusted fled Egypt and arrived a Sinai as a people who now had a new relationship with Jehovah. No longer a figure from their traditions and stories of the past when Abraham walked the desert. Jehovah was now the deliverer who had plucked from the midst of Egyptian slavery and made them HIS PEOPLE and asked them to trust HIM to be THEIR GOD.
Then came the rules. As a people whose only rules for life had been — obey your Egyptian slave masters — they needed guidelines for life. As God’s people they needed to know what His expectations were. Where the fence line was. But they were His people first!
To the would be disciple God says — Trust me. Trust that my Son’s Grace is sufficient. As a disciple the rules are easy (sort of).
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
The rules show that we are His. They confirm the relationship. They don’t make the relationship. If I wander outside the rules — the fence — I am still God’s. But now the relationship is in peril. When I stay within the boundary the relationship can grow and blossom as intended. Food, water, soft bed, flea baths….
When the kids break their rules — they are still mine. I may not like them or acknowledge them, but they are still mine. That relationship is in peril and can be broken. However, when they are within the confirmation of the rules — our relationship continues to grow and develop.
Stop trying to prove yourself to God — just admit your inability to “do it alone” and ask him to put you within the fence of His Grace and protection.