The Big Question 86: Is Being a Christian All About Following Rules?
Feb 22, 2022 228
Is being a Christian all about following rules?
If you listen to a lot of the critics of the Christian faith, you’d probably think that Christianity is all about following rules. And that’s the reason why a lot of people don’t want to be Christians. Who wants to live simply being told what to do all the time? That might be OK when you’re an infant, but you have to grow up sometime!
Unfortunately, throughout history, there have been far too many Christians who have seen their faith in that way. They’ve made following rules more important than anything else. In so doing, they’ve really misrepresented what the message of Christianity is all about.
This is the very same central issue that Jesus faced during his ministry. And it is precisely the issue that he persistently tried to correct. The Jewish people had turned religion into something that was essentially all about following rules.
If you think about it, most religions and spiritual philosophies in the world are about following rules. They tell you that God will accept you if you follow certain rules or observe certain religious rituals. Or they will give you a set of defined spiritual principles that you must follow.
The reason is that our sinful self-centredness always pushes us to think that if we do better, we will be better accepted by God. Because of the sin that is deep within us, we will always be powerfully tempted to think that we can do it ourselves, and even if we need God, we can help him along. It always feels better if you can do something yourself.
A simple illustration is when you are invited for lunch by someone else. You naturally ask,
“What can I bring?”
You ask the question because you really do want to contribute to the meal because you know how awkward you will feel if you turn up empty-handed.
But here’s the thing: God actually does want you to turn up empty-handed! The only thing he will accept is the empty hand of faith. That means that you know that you have nothing to offer, and you surrender yourself in trust to him.
The message of Jesus was that true religion was about following him, and not about following rules. That was Jesus’ central message to them, and also to us today.
Because most of the Jewish people were so caught up in their rules, they missed him. They missed having a relationship of trust in Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for living in a way that pleases God, and there’s a place for obedience. But there’s only a place for those things as the result of having entered into a relationship of love and trust with Jesus.
So, Christianity is most definitely not just about following rules. If it were, I wouldn’t be a Christian!