Acts 10:9–35, Acts 15:5–34, Romans 14:13-23
Rules are everywhere, aren’t they? Rules are a good thing. Often rules give us the freedom to act for we have a pretty good idea what others will do (assuming they know the rules). This is true in examples such as driving. We know (we hope) what the other person will do, as they should have learned (and been tested) the same rules.
Rules are often also put into place to better level the playing field. These rules are often disliked, not because the concept is bad, but because the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
Another set of very important rules are those for leaders or in other responsible positions. People, for example, who are in charge of educating, children, and money should all follow rules, so that everyone knows what their obligations are. Often, sadly, the rules are put into place after someone else has done something wrong, so the “good” folks don’t like to be treated like the bad ones. That is the whole rotten apple ruins it for everyone concept.
Peter was schooled on the rules. In this case, these rules were put into place for the Israelites (then Jews) to follow. The problem was that God wasn’t just calling the Jews. The official reach had expanded. The rules that Peter lived by had outlived their usefulness, and now were a barrier to the world.
After his vision and experience with the Gentiles, he then had to remind his fellow Jews (whom he had previously told this story to) that they couldn’t live up to the rules either. They certainly had a quick revision of “the rules”.
Yet, even in Rome (the “home” of the Gentiles) the rules were still an issue and were a hindrance to the church and the hearts of its people. Rules are a framework of behavior. They should not crush spirits, or seek to destroy lives. Yet, the consequences of breaking the rules are not the same as the rules themselves. Consequences are the result of our choices, yet we often blame the rules.
1) When have you found rules to be helpful at work, at home, at church?
2) When have you found rules to be more crushing of spirit, rather than a framework of guidance/protection?
3) When do you find rules to be a problem? Have you ever analyzed your response to the rules to see if it is your pride or the effect of the rule that you are reacting to?