Common thought today;
- Rules are meant to be broken
- Boundaries are meant to be challenged
- Guidelines are merely suggestions, recommendations, and preferred expectations
Almost no one likes rules. Almost no one wants to be ‘governed’, controlled, directed, and worse… forced to do something they’d really rather not do. This is not a “suck it up, buttercup” pep-talk… it’s not an exposé on why rules are your friend… it’s not even an attempt to get you to adapt and just accept that they exist, you need them, and the world is a better place with them that without them.
Rules, Guidelines, Boundaries… they all help convey limitations… something of a “you can go to this point (here) , but not that far (there)” premise. When God plunked Man into the Garden (remember, Eve was made after man was put into the Garden), there is only one recorded limitation placed on Man’s presence in that Garden… not to eat of the fruit of that fateful tree; The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now, this is the only recorded rule that God gave Adam. There may have been others, but this one seemed to be a show-stopper for God.. this one seemed to carry ‘the weight of the world’ with it.. this one was that important. So… we really should take a little time to consider why a rule even needed to be added to this wonderful world God made.
Too often, we don’t grasp the brevity of a rule, or a leading step from the Lord. We hear that a limitation is placed on us, and we almost instantly question why and what happens if I go beyond that limitation or boundary. Please remember, God is not trying to squelch our lives… He is not trying to be sure we remain subservient…. not even trying to remind us that “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out again”, as our parents would always say…. OK… my parents would always say!
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.Genesis 1:16 KJV
See? Rules are good. Were it not for God’s rule over the universe, our world would be in chaos. Rules help ensure the original design and implementation God created remains intact. Sure… that is a ‘rule of nature’ and nature doesn’t have its own free-will. Man was made ‘like God’, and our free-will puts us in a precarious place of trust… of faith… of obedience to God’s leading.
There is also a ‘scope’ for rules… an intended application, or a way of isolating when and where the rule applies. Scope helps to ensure we don’t have an ambiguous rule (Thou shalt not belch in public, say) and use that to incarcerate someone because they hiccuped, or have a abdominal spasm that caused them to gasp. No… I am not suggesting that all rules are subject to interpretation and open to scrutiny for their application… I am just trying to convey that many of the rules in life do have a scope or an application.
Contrarily, we need to be careful that we don’t dismiss a rule because we don’t agree with the purpose for it… the goal it is intended to ensure… or even the underlying intentions. Sure… in the case of the fateful ‘garden rule’, God told Adam, “…for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:17 Now… that is where the serpent twisted things for Eve… convincing her that God had ulterior motives… He was being deceptive and was hiding a special secret. We’ll never know how Adam and Even would have handled all this had God merely told Adam, “Don’t eat of that fruit” and left it at that. It is OK… it is appropriate… it is even encouraged to grasp the underlying purpose, goal or intention of a rule… even question/challenge it (not defiantly)… but, obedience is what God is actually expecting.
It is tough to not reason through it all… to question things… or really just to analyze the end-game goal for this rule being presented. See… God did tell Adam the ‘why’ part (…for thou shalt surely die), but honestly… Adam wasn’t even formally ‘born’, so he mostly likely didn’t understand ‘die’, as it were… it may well be that God told him straight out what would happen, but the consequence just didn’t seem to matter or have relevance for Adam… and then Eve. Sure… when the serpent was taunting Eve about it all, she at least did remember that was the consequence and even told the serpent, too. He quickly bypassed that little detail and quickly went to the sly part of his trickery. Again and again… getting into a reasoning discussion over God’s leading will cause you so you much turmoil… so much anguish… so much distraction from enjoying the world God has you in that very moment.
What would this world be like without rules? Sure, there are many cultures that have fewer rules than some and other cultures that have more rules that some. There is no getting around some of the basic rules we all use all over the globe, though. As an example, Roadways themselves, Music (no matter the genre), and even Physics (geo-physics, bio-physics, astro-physics, etc).
Roadways all around the world vary in only one main way; direction of travel for each side of the roadway. Otherwise, the rules and guidelines are essentially the same… some are trivial and some are vital for life itself. As an example, that little dividing stripe in the middle of a two-way roadway is a well trusted element. Anymore these days, we never give too much thought to the traffic coming from the other direction and passing RIGHT by us just 2-3 feet away… how very, very close we are to utter tragedy and utter disaster. Many have experienced an accident, or at least heard of one, witnessed one, read about or watched a video of one.
The roadway has many rules. As morning commuters are traveling during the peak hours of activity, it is more and more important that all the participants follow the rules… adhere to the law… respectfully drive with a courteous attitude. When someone is jetting through those congested roadways, bolting in and out of lanes, dodging quickly here and there, braking and accelerating… they can easily cause more turmoil. The ‘system’ is delicate and they are challenging the edge of fate with their actions.
Roadways are one of the many aspects of our lives that would be utter chaos where it not for the rules. Sure, they vary from locale to locale, but just imagine the most basic rule… say, “remaining in your lane”. On the busier roadways, following behind someone who is not able to keep their vehicle in the lane can be troubling. A vehicle wandering in and out of a lane leaves others around them unsure… puts others on edge… even calls into question the driver’s actual capacity to operate that vehicle. Impairment comes to mind initially, but other things can distract someone from focusing on their driving and causing them to drift in and out of the lane.
As a driver observing another vehicle wandering in and out of a lane, there quickly becomes that sense of responsibility to report them so an official can handle the predicament. Or, we can simply get past the vehicle and ‘put it behind us’, as it were… even changing our route and go to our destination by another roadway. The rule-of-the-road is being violated and it is causing mayhem among those around. This wandering event would be much less critical if the driver was the only one on the roadway. But again, once we have more than one person sharing an environment, a rule is used to help ensure a consistent and proper behavior among the participants.
Music can be even more critical with regards to rules and following an established system. Most music is marked with timing (rhythm) and tempo and is structured in a particular ‘key’ to ensure it is played and conveyed as the author intended. In many ways, as with the Roadway rules, if there is only one person playing the music, the rules are less critical. Once you have other musicians or vocalists join the ‘band’, it is essentially they “get along and play well together”, as it were. I know you know this, but just imagine Music without the rules.
Physics is one other area of this world that must have rules. These rules however are not as obvious to most… they are just part of the world in which we live and we rarely give much thought to them. Now… I am not directing our attention to the ‘math’ side of physics. Consider Geophysics, or Astrophysics, or even Biophysics.
- Geophysics pertains the the earth and its atmosphere, including oceanography, seismology, volcanology, and geomagnetism
- Astrophysics pertains to the physical properties of celestial bodies and with the interaction between matter and radiation in the interior of celestial bodies and in interstellar space
- Biophysics pertains to the biological structures and processes, such as humans, plants, animals, etc.
Imagine that the earth didn’t follow it’s own basic rules. It no longer rotated at a consistent speed nor in a consistent direction, but began doing radical transitions. We’d all be thrown to the ground like a merry-go-round suddenly being stopped… the momentum of our bodies would continue, even though the earth (the transport mechanism) stopped suddenly. Consider the rivers of the earth… how they flow as they do… the water flows downhill… always! “The law of gravity” is to thank for that, and that one rule is used by Civil Engineers all around this globe to determine flood-zones, adequate living areas, and even rain-water runoff direction and amounts. Were it not for this one rule, chaos would ensue. If the earth stopped following this one rule, many lives would be in danger.
The physics inside our own bodies is another amazing story of rules. The beating heart, the breathing process, not to mention the way our brain handles our balance, our thoughts, and our appendages. Were it not for the rules of biophysics, we would surely not be able to trust even a simple walk, let alone running and playing in a sport or endurance event. Sure… our bodies seem to have a mind of their own, as it were… especially when it comes to illness, ailments, and disease. But, even when we are unconscious, our bodies follow the rules… our bodies continue performing and operating as designed… or bodies follow the rules of life.
Your World – Own It
Genesis 2:15 states, “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. ” Originally, God made a vast and beautiful world. Out of all the things God made, He didn’t not make this world self-sufficient… self-contained… self-healing. He placed Man in the garden to “dress it and keep it”. He intended for us to ‘own’ that world… to dress it… to keep it… and to complete His purpose for this world. Owning your world is not a selfish or egocentric trait of your life… it is merely a posture of pride, of responsibility, and even better of liability, too. If there could be an order for those, it would be responsibility, liability, and pride (more on that in coming chapters).
Of all the things in life that do not make sense, why-oh-why would God make such a perfect world that Man can mess up? Oh… I know… the obvious answer (now that we have sinned) is so we know first-hand the pain of disobedience… the anguish of work… the brutal misery of death itself. Still… He seemed to set us up to fail by even putting that “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” within our reach. But, as the record shows, that was the only limitation we had… that one rule… that one guideline. Sure, there may have been others (too bad a stenographer was not there, right!), but we have this one limitation. Forget the type of tree that it was… forget the power that tree had… forget how ‘like God’ we would be if we consumed the fruit… the core limitation was a test of our obedience… our ability to follow the rules.. our willingness to choose right-from-wrong, not understand it!
One way, we trust God’s leading in our lives… the other way, we understand it. Seems like a ‘whack’ reason to turn the whole world upside-down… to introduce sin… to let death have it’s way. But, God’s core limitation for us is to trust Him… to obey Him… to let that wily serpent know that he can spin all the half-truth he wants, God’s rules for us are not open to interpretation… they are not put to the test of reasoning and rationalization… they are not target practice for challenging God’s grace, love, and especially goodness for our lives… PERIOD.
The benefits of following God’s leading… of obeying His calling and rules… of even going ‘beyond all reason’ and just simply trusting? Easy-Peasy;
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”John 15:10 (KJV)
Nuts… nothing tangible there, huh! I mean, we live in such a cause-n-effect world these days… a world of tangible results, immediate feedback, almost instant validation for a right or wrong choice. But, that is the one thing that tripped up Adam and Eve; “for in the day thou eatest of that fruit, thou shalt surely die” reads as though they would die ‘on the spot’. Once Eve partook and was still standing to prove to Adam that the ‘thou shalt surely die part’ was a trick and (as the serpent noted) God just knows they would be ‘like’ God “knowing” good from evil… how wrong can THAT be, afterall!
But, in Jesus’ day, he was asked; “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matthew 22:36-37)
Now that is an easy, but hard limitation! I mean… anyone can do it… but, not on your own. You can NOT just go through the motions of loving God… you can NOT just put on all the physical traits of committing yourself to Him… wait… I mean… you ‘can’, but you cannot. I mean.. we are limited beings. We can ‘strive’ to be perfect for God… we can sacrifice our lives to Him…. for Him… but, without His leading in our lives… without His calling on our lives… without His blessing on our lives, it is a man-made solution. See… John 14:6 says, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
And, we are back to square one of that fateful garden, but in modern times; God requires we obey His leading for our lives… God provides guidance, hope, comfort, but we must trust His leading… His rules… His guidelines for our lives. When that wily serpent begins to reason with you about it, do like Jesus did and tell him “Get thee behind me, Satan!“