I have had times in my life, and I am sure you have to, where I knew there was something I was supposed to do or not do because I had been instructed or because there were rules or laws telling me so, but I did not want to follow it. It is in these times that I think what I want to do is better than what is required of me. We all face this from time to time whether it is instructions or rules from parents, teachers, the government, employer, etc. We think we know what is best instead of trusting the authority over us. This becomes a real problem if we decide to do what we want to instead. None of us like rules, but it is necessary for us to not only follow them, but understand their purpose. Now I don't want anyone reading this, and I gave this same warning last night, to think that I am talking about legalism (following rules to earn salvation and God's love). I am talking about obedience to God because we love Him. This may all seem silly, but is another thing that I think we all as Christians need to be reminded of.
We looked at Proverbs 19:20 which lets us know that we are instructed in order to help us be wise the rest of our life. By following rules it helps us out later on in life. When helping with the ONTRAC abstinence program in the schools, we tell the students that the decisions make today will face you later on in life. This is the same with following rules. Rules and laws were created for the following:
-Establish Boundaries/Restraint- rules help us form boundaries which we are all in need of.
-Keep us from harm- rules help keep us safe. While we may not like speed zone laws, they are there to keep us from harm.
-Help us grow and become who God created us to be- we become disciplined as we follow rules.
So after we talked about the purpose of rules, we then talked about our responsibility. Of course our responsibility is to be obedient, but why? We looked at Romans 13:1-5 to gain a better perspective. Verse 1 says we are to "be in subjection". The words used here are that of a soldier's absolute obedience to his superior officer. The same verse goes on to say that "there is no authority except from God". This means that all authority in the form of rules and laws have come from God. It also means that He is the One who has authority over all. Then to take it a step further it also means that everyone in authority has been placed by Him. That is definitely something we do not like to think about because we do not like some leaders and elected officials but it is true. Verse 2 talks about how if you oppose those in authority then you are opposing God. In other words if you break laws and rules and are disobedient to others then you are being disobedient to God. We have to understand where is Paul is coming from in writing this for it to make even better sense. At this moment Paul was under the Roman government and specifically under Nero who was probably the most evil of all Roman emperors. However Paul still recognizes the government rule over him. Verse 5 tells us that we should follow rules/laws not only to avoid punishment and to stay out of trouble, but out of obligation to God and to keep a clear conscience.
So you are probably thinking at this point- "What if the rule/law is immoral and opposed to God?" If it contradicts God's Word then we are not to follow it. Good examples of this are in the life of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They followed God because it was the right thing to do. However for most of us, this is something we do not face. It does happen in the world, but for us, it isn't anything that we normally face.
The problem lies when we pick and choose which rules to follow and which ones to ignore. It disturbs me greatly to hear a professing Christian to talk about those rules that they ignore, even if it is as simple as following the school dress code. There is nothing in Scripture that says anything like we can earn a right to pick and choose what we follow. It simply is a worldly thought. When we pick and choose what to follow it is because we are still mostly concerned about what we can get out of life instead of focusing on giving our life for God, the One who gave us life in the first place.
We ended by reading 1 John 5:3. John tells us that we show our love for God by obeying His commandments. It also lays things out beautifully after that. John goes on to say that our obedience to Him is not burdensome. We all deal with things in life that burden us and weigh us down from time to time. But obedience to God is nothing close to a burden because in it we find rest in Him. Yes there will be times when it is hard, times when you are tired, and times when you deal with tough situations but serving Him will never be a burden. If it has become a burden, then you are not being obedient to Him, but instead are serving yourself so that you look good on the outside.
So we closed the night with a moment of reflection and decision. I asked the students to ask God to search their hearts and ask themselves if they are picking or choosing rules to follow. I asked them to consider if they obey God as an act of worship to Him. It was a great night in all and I believe that God truly worked in our hearts. After packing sack-packs we had a brief meeting with the students who registered for MFuge this summer. I challenged them to really be in prayer starting now about what all God will do this summer. We are about 120 days away and it will be here before we know it. Here is the third video in the "Reminder Man" series for you to enjoy.