Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Finding a Balance Between Rules and Freedom

As a pastor, people often come to me looking for answers. Specifically, the want me to tell them what to believe, what to think, what to do. "Just tell me the answer, Pastor!" But I've always had the sense that my job isn't to provide all the answers. If anything, my job is to make sure people are asking God the right questions!

Providing the answers makes people dependent on me for their direction. Helping people ask the right questions makes them dependent on God. A far better situation for all concerned!

One of the great things about following Christ is that there are pretty clear expectations. For the most part, I don't think its a great mystery what God requires of us in the situations we face each day. God wants to reveal a clear and straight path for us. But providing easy, canned answers doesn't do much to reveal that path or help a person grow in Christ.

I think our desire for answers and rules makes sense; there's safety in rules. If you know what the rules are and you know what the expectations are -- you can find a lot of security by staying within those boundaries. At the same time, as the rules become more and more important - freedom starts to disappear.

Can there be a balance between rules and freedom? How can we tell when the rules become so important that the reasons we have them are obscured? It seems to me that whenever Jesus was faced with the need to chose between people and "the rules," he chose people. The rules were made for people. People were not made for the rules.

When God is ready to do a new thing - to bring us new wine - we have to set some things aside in our pursuit of God. Familiar rules and rituals may be one of those things. You can't always do a new thing the old way. There are times when old wineskins just won't do.

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