Throughout our lives we are confined to different sets of rules. We are given guidelines in school, at home, and in the workplace. Don’t wear this, don’t eat this, don’t say this. Read this, study this, be good at this.
As human nature would have it, we are programmed to dislike being confined by these restrictions, and naturally inclined to rebel.
We hate the feeling, yet, we force restrictions on ourselves all the time.
I find myself restricting what I can eat in order to maintain a healthy waistline.
I have restricted the amount of fun I had for the sake of needing to be “productive.”
And for a long time, I viewed Christianity as a restrictive mindset with the Bible as our rule book.
I would follow the rule book, make a list of do’s and don’ts and muster up every bit of willpower I had to abide by them.
And then just as my rebellious nature would have it, in moments of feeling overly restricted and frustrated, I’d refuse to let any rule dictate how I lived my life and break all of them.
“I’ll get back on track on Monday and be a good Christian then.” As if taking a break from Jesus carried just about the same weight as choosing to eat carbs over the weekend when I got fed up with my diet.
Sunday would roll around, and I’d head to church, seek forgiveness for my sins and then get back on track with “life’s rule book” Monday through Friday, only to feel like I needed to unleash and let loose again come Friday night.
This is not a sustainable way to live. Not in diet culture, not in work culture, and especially not in Christian culture.
I don’t know what changed me. I don’t remember a light bulb moment or a specific day. But one day I found myself fed up with the restrictions, overwhelmed by the endless limitations, and in need of answers rather than rules and ironically, I was turning to the Bible.
My relationship with Jesus was growing and my mindset was shifting, from seeing the Bible as another set of rules, to seeing it as a freeing way of life.
I realized that there was nothing from my past that could keep him from loving me, and no rule that I could break in the future that would stop him from pursuing me (Luke 15:1-7 NKJV). And that alone made me feel less tempted to test the waters.
Rather than hiding the rules I had broken from him, I started bringing those temptations to him and searching for answers. While searching for those answers, I realized that God had a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and it was a very good plan. He has a plan for you too, dear friend.
I also realized through reading that not only did God already know that I wasn’t perfect, but when I brought my burdens to Him, he would help me through (Matthew 28:11-30).
When culture felt grey and I wasn’t sure what the right action step was, I started going to my answer key: the word of God.
By reading that answer key, I was given a road map to life. Knowing that when I submitted to God’s will he would guide my steps made me feel free. The word warned me that in life I would have troubles, but it didn’t just stop there, I was also promised that I’d be ok because God overcame the world (John 16:33).
As fallen humans, shame from our past choices can keep us from God. And the enemy loves to use that shame to make us think that God doesn’t want us unless we are ready to be restricted.
But all that God wants is us. Broken, hurting, rebellious. He wants all of us. And not only does he want us, but He wants to guide us through life with a road map and free us from those burdens.
We will never grow in our relationship with God by hiding who it is we truly are. He doesn’t want that version of us. He wants the version that is weary and beaten down so that he can take on those burdens, carry them for us, and use our stories to glorify him. We are preventing all of that beauty from happening when we use His word to restrict us rather than guide us.
He doesn’t want to keep joy from us, but he knows that this world is not what will give us true joy, but his word and his way is.
- I want to challenge you today to study the verses above and ask yourself whether your view of God and his word is that of a restrictive rule book or a beautiful road map for life. Journal your thoughts.
- Spend a few minutes in prayer and ask God to reveal to you where your view of his word is restricted and ask him to renew your mind (Romans 12:2).
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” –Romans 12:2
- Let it become a roadmap today, and allow God to show you all of the beauty and freedom that is ahead, if you simply let him guide you.