Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Let Them Go
I am not about rules either Larry... In fact my spirit just wants to break up against them sometimes... especially when it comes from a person that is "legalistic" per se. BUT you know I've been working on my term paper? Well I found that I short -cut there as well... I take short cuts. I have found that I have had to spend a considerable amount of time going back to the small rules about APA format, referencing, giving credit...
In the same way... I think God takes us back... when we try to short cut!
Yes. It's called the spiral approach: repeating the lesson, each time a little deeper. With God, even the short cuts aren't short.
Some rules are necessary. In writing a term paper you are, in essence, competing with others in the same class for a grade. So are scientists, when they write about their research for publication. For such a paper to mean anything it has to follow the rules for research and presentation because otherwise you're comparing apples and oranges.
I'm not against rules per se. I'm also not a rebel just for the sake of being a rebel. I simply see no good in following an arbitrary rule just because someone set it up as a rule.
If you believe in the rules, right now we're all supposed to wear earth tones. I still wear my bright colors because that's what I like. The rules say we're supposed to put ourselves in deep debt to get the latest car and a big house. I still drive an old car because it works, and have no interest in a house and the attendant long drive to work.
If you believe the rules, knowing God is a step-by-step process guaranteed to bring you wealth, friends and everything you want. Of course, figuring out which step is next is a matter of some difficulty, but there are plenty of churches out there willing to help. Oh, for a small donation, of course.
When you meet a person you want to know better, you don't go through a lesson plan. Assuming that the other one is interested in you, you spend time with each other. As the relationship grows you learn more about each other, anticipate what they'll want, do silly things for each other.
When God brought me back to himself I knew very clearly a lot of things that didn't work. I bet my life that God was big enough to teach me what I needed to know, and threw the rules out. I could see the results of these in people's lives and had no interest in emulating that. I see no need for repeating mistakes. If it doesn't work, try something else.
Anything else. Even if it's wrong. You can't steer a car that's sitting still.
God had already let me run for 25 years. He wasn't very worried.
First, came truth. I need truth. I need something to hold onto, and through Greg Soo Hoo and others I found truth that, when tested, didn't fall apart. Real ideas, not rules. Like talking to God. Asking questions, and getting answers I needed.
The big problem with rules is that they narrowly define where you are. If life events push you outside the space defined by the rules, you're really in trouble because you have no idea how to respond. If, however, you learn the principles from which the rules were made, you can use the principles to figure out what to do after life has knocked your playpen apart.
Paul had little use for men's rules. He was a slave to Christ, and the rule that defined his life was love for those God had given into his care. He spent a lot of time in jail. He spent a lot of time with God. He was in love with God. Ask a Pharisee how much love comes from observing rules and then look at the cross, which is the measure of how much God loves us. No rule could lead Jesus to giving his life for us.
Paul also was good at presenting the Gospel in the way that his listeners could best grasp. If some needed to start out with a somewhat different set of rules, he'd accommodate them by using metaphors and ideas that they worked with every day.
My problem is that I'm determined to hold onto my way at all costs. This comes from experience. I've met so many people, starting at an early age, that wanted to overwrite me with their own ideas. I've learned to defend myself strongly, if needed. My personal history has shown that I'm pretty good at figuring things out, and I'd rather make my own mistakes that repeat someone else's.
If you're the Marine Corps, you beat on people with psychologic hammers until they crumble, and then you reassemble them as you want. The result, to my mind, is highly questionable.
God's approach seems to be more like that of a horse whisperer. Let them run. Be there, unchanging. Show them that while there might be things to fear, you're not going to leave them alone. Keep them from hurting themselves, help them invisibly, give an honest reward to the slightest attempt at going the way that you know is best.
The result of all of this is something that looks suspiciously like love. And I'd better quit writing before I get too scared and start running again. This hasn't been an easy week. I don't snuggle up to the idea of love and call it home.