We all grow up with rules. Rules like:
Don’t color outside the lines.
Don’t hit your neighbor even when they bug you on the playground.
Don’t leave the house without telling someone where you are going.
There are some of us who grow up liking such boundaries. They are like a blueprint that lead us to unlimited affirmation.
Then there are some of us who come out of the womb hating rules. We weren’t born on our due dates and we’ve never been on time to anything a day in our lives. We love the joy of finding ways to do our own thing no matter what.
And there are those of us who land somewhere in between. We frequently drive above the speed limit but we wouldn’t dare go against unspoken family rules of who speaks up at gatherings.
(For much of my life I’ve been in the rule loving group).
But, if you’ve been following my recent posts about vocation, you know that living a life without professional rules is something that I’m experimenting with. And in this journey, I’m realizing that I can be a happy and fulfilled minister without a church, without a retirement plan and without someone with authority providing constant praise– imagine that?
Jesus’ ministry on earth could be summed up in his relationship with the rules of the day.
In my preaching the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed this: Jesus did not follow the rules. Not to the point of arrogance and not to the point of disrespect of persons, but he never was afraid to go against what was accepted or commonplace in the cultural context.
Jesus was the guy who had the audacity to submit himself to the waters of baptism (when he was God come to earth after all) and needed no affirmation by human hands.
Jesus was the guy who had the audacity to tell fishermen that they would do more with their lives than spend all their nights on smelly boats.
Jesus was the guy with the audacity to tell the crowd that gathered around him on the mount that “blessed” was not about earthly esteem but about peacemaking and meekness.
Jesus broke the rules because the rules themselves had become such a skewed parameter of what God’s intentions for humanity were!
Or simply put: rules can keep discipline in and joy out. Rules can focus us on the expectations of others, not who we are as beloved children. Rules can hold us back from God wants to be in us. So Jesus showed a new way– a way of freedom.
Don’t get me wrong. Rules can be good. They can keep us safe. They can help us better live in community peacefully.
But there comes a time when all the big questions of life emerge and when we take a step back and evaluate the deeper meaning of things and we realize that rules aren’t all that. They are just rules. And like the Dali Lama XIV once said: “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
What are you doing lately to break the rules?