Psalm 119:9–16, Proverbs 2:1–22, Ephesians 1:17–19 (read online ⧉)
There is an old editorial cartoon…2 people come up to a fence with a sign. On the sign it reads, “do not cross over fence.” One person says to the other, “ rules are meant to keep you under control,” and the person jumps over the fence. The fence? Well, it was to keep a person from going over the cliff…
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the sheer number of choices people have regarding food, toiletries, college majors, college classes, cars, homes, and so on. In fact, since Barry Swartz wrote The Paradox of Choice in 2004, psychologists and anthropologies have started to document what happens when we have too much choice…we actually become paralyzed in our thinking: analysis paralysis. There have also some business studies that show when there are boundaries, people make more creative and even out-of-the-box solutions to solve problems.
The rules that Adam and Eve…correction, the single rule that Adam and Eve had to follow…they didn’t. Christian apologists and theologians have for centuries knocked the rules set out in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy as overly onerous. Yet, the civic code for many cities far outweighs the 613 rules (both positive and negative ones) that were a result. There are around 200 basic rules for American Football. If you add the permutations/variables, some counts put it close to 400. Think about that for a moment. People declare that the rules were too hard in Jesus’ time, but scream at the television during a football because the referee got the call wrong (maybe).
A report from 1982 (the last time this was attempted) put the number of federal crimes as around 3000. First, that was 1982. While some offenses have definitely been eliminated, others have been created. Even the U.S. Federal Government cannot count how many laws, regulations, and even criminal offenses there are. This also doesn’t account for other rules regarding international behavior, nor does it cover states, nor does it cover counties, nor does it cover cities. Any organization you are a member of (including businesses, schools, churches) have their own sets of rules, too. Just setting aside speeding, most people break laws every day, and a lot of them we may not even know (if the monitors of the laws don’t even know what the laws are).
We don’t seem to mind the laws of man. In fact, in pretty much every election cycle there is some call for some new regulation/law/crime…but God better not tell us what to do! There is something…bothersome…that just bugs us that God tells us, “no”. Part of it, so it seems, is that we think we understand other humans. So, we regulate them to protect ourselves. We push for laws for “them”, but don’t think of ourselves as “them”. Of course, “they” want to regulate us, so they pass their laws, too.
God, on the other hand, really is not the God of regulations. That’s a human thing. God gives us free will. God did give us boundaries. As the Creator, God might just happen to know what is best for us. Still, we seem to struggle.
1) What is the one “don’t” from God that you struggle with? Are sure that is a God don’t, and not a human don’t?
2) Human don’ts can be good, too. What human don’t (or don’ts) can you think of that align with God’s?
3) Why do you think it appears to be easier to obey 3000+ human laws, but harder to obey 613 of God’s laws?*
*Note that the 613 laws are being used as an example and to make a point. They are not automatically rules for life. Jesus Christ transformed the Law into something completely different.