If you are a parent of a teen, you know how often he or she asks about rules. Seems like life is all about what he or she cannot do! Well, many Christians have the same issue with their faith. They see Christianity as a big list of do’s and don’ts.
What is often missing when addressing both teens and fellow Christians is looking at the heart of a matter. Rules are important only because they function like protective boundaries, but obedience comes out of a heart of love and gratefulness.
Reading the Old Testament, it is easy to see why Christianity is often viewed as a list of do’s and don’ts. The Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) lists 613 “mitzvot” (commandments). When you add to that total, centuries of rabbinical traditions that created another set of rules about how to keep the first rules…and then the traditions and customs well... you get my drift.
Actually, God had a plan for these rules all along.
He purposefully created a set of rules that He knew we humans could not keep. In the beginning, an annual sacrifice of a pure and unmarked lamb to absolve the lot of our collective inabilities to keep His laws was the only solution to our failed obedience.
Then, in one amazing fell swoop, God sent a perfect replica of Himself. We Christians call Him Jesus, the God-man – to fill in for the annual sacrificial lamb. For 33 years, Jesus lived a 100 percent pure and perfect (read: sinless) life. He de-emphasized rules and got to the heart of matters. When he was murdered on a cross, he became the sacrificial lamb. But this time, God was satisfied for all time. And we, out of love, desire to keep God’s commandments and receive His blessings.
Now, we’re free from the list of do’s and don’ts that handcuffed us all those years ago. Now, loves compels us to follow God’s rules as a matter of choice. Our choice. Because Jesus’ choice was to buy our freedom, we are no longer slaves to the law. We keep his rules and commands by choice, viewing them as protective guardrails around our lives that keep us on the road to blessing.
So the next time your teen questions the rules, get to the heart of matter. Help him or her see that out of love, obedience comes because of the choices we are given. Love is what compels us to obey.