Rules Matter

25 Apr

We are taking a break from our vacation today as we find holidays boring. Today we will do several posts then go back on vacation.

This article is going to deal with the topic of rules and we know so many people hate rules and want freedom but to have real freedom one must have rules. True freedom leads only to anarchy, selfishness and total disregard for humanity and society. It is impossible for everyone to have their ‘rights’ and practice them for something has to be wrong and off-limits.

The article that got us thinking about this topic is found at:

One of the things we have noticed about most mega church pastors is that they seem to ignore the rules about how to dress.These men seem to use Jesus’ ignoring of the Pharisee’s rules to justify their ignoring of proper dress codes for leadership. Not that dress codes are written in stone but we need to respect our audience and show our respect for God. Yes our heart attitude does that but our heart attitude should also direct us to dress correctly when the situation calls for it and not use our heart as an excuse to dress as we please.

If you want an extreme example, if we were to follow the attitudes of some mega church pastors then we could not stop nudists from taking off their clothes for church attendance. Most people would be upset by it but under the rules of true freedom, there is nothing we could do to stop them from attending church naked. if we want the freedom and right to dress as we please, then the nudist must be granted that same freedom and right. True freedom allows everyone to do as they please not just a few accepted people.

While that article does not go to this extreme there are a few points that trouble us and warrants our breaking our vacation time.

#1.Pastor Chuck Booher of Crossroads Church in California recently warned against the danger of living with only rules and no love.

Now if he stopped here and built upon how love affects obedience to rules then that pastor would have been fine but the trouble with this statement is two-fold. First, love does not excuse us from following rules. Jesus said, ‘if you love me keep my commandments’ love and obedience to rules go hand in hand. Second, that pastor did not define what type of love he was referring to here and this has been a problem for a long time now. Church leaders do not go deep enough with their definitions of certain terms, in this case the word love, and let people define it as they see fit instead of leading the people to the correct meaning and application of the word.

This freedom to define the word ‘love’ as one sees fit leads to all sorts of problems and does nothing to bring people to the truth or the right way to live.

#2.The pastor uses the Bible’s example of the Pharisees to show that a life with all rules and no love creates an unhealthy relationship with Jesus. Those who are too hung up on rules miss the point of God’s love, Booher continues, pointing to several instances in which he’s seen churches become too obsessed with rule-following, as when he saw a young pastor get fired from his church for encouraging applause during live baptism

While much of this quote is true its application misses the point of God’s love as well as love is not a permission slip to do what one wants in a worship service. Love is not blind and cannot be the excuse to do any activity that may disrupt the church or actually be false teaching. Why do we need applause at a baptism? There is no biblical command or instruction to have it and when we read the biblical accounts of John’s baptizing and Jesus’ baptism we do not see the spectators breaking out in a round of applause.

If people want to appeal to Jesus and the bible to justify their activities then they need to do so for all of them and applause at baptism does not get biblical or divine support. Barring applause is not being ‘hung up on rules’ but questioning the spiritual need for it. If it is to encourage the person or celebrating his or her baptism that can be done more appropriately and at a more appropriate time. One cannot get ‘hung up’ on having applause at a baptism either. Discretion is the key here.

#3.In Luke 13: 14-17 (NIV), the Pharisees are upset with Jesus for disobeying the rules and healing on a Sabbath day, with the Synagogue leader saying: “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

Then if we are going to use biblical examples, let’s be honest about it. The Pharisees were not upset at Jesus breaking the rules of the Sabbath, they were upset because he was breaking THEIR rules. As Jesus pointed out, he was not breaking God’s rules concerning Sabbath observance. The key here is to make sure that the rules being broken are actually man-made and not God directed or installed.

We do not use Jesus to justify our sinful behavior. Of course we could spend time discussing the definition of the word ‘work’ and if that term applies to doing good and having miracles performed.

#4.”Love produces right living. Rules produce miserable people,” the pastor adds.

How can love produce right living if it has no rules to tell others they are doing what is right? God loves us and as you can see, we have a Bible full of rules and instructions to follow and many verses exhorting us to obey and how good obedience is. Love has nothing to obey if it does not have rules and instructions telling people what is right and what is wrong.

Then without rules love cannot bring grace, mercy, forgiveness into the equation and we will be missing out on so much because of this lack. Pastors do an injustice to their congregations by withholding the right idea about love and just use the term because it is popular and will draw people’s attention to their sermons.

#5.The California pastor offers guidelines for Christians when dealing with rules: rules cancel the Word of God and confine you, while love gives you purpose and sets you free.

How do rules cancel the word of God when the word of god includes rules and commands? If love sets us free, we must ask, ‘free from what?’ Obedience to God? Free from right and wrong, morality and immorality? In fighting against something one doe snot like one should make sure they are not tearing down their own house in the process.

Yes love sets us free, but it does not set us free from God’s rules nor condones sin or allows us to sin. Under that idea quoted above, we can say that adultery is okay because we love the person other than our mate. Love has set us free from the rules of marriage and if you think that is an extreme example, that is the direction that Pastor is going in when he says things like that.

#6.Rules can also be confining, the pastor continues, saying that as long as Christians allow their faith to be led by a love for Christ, obedience of the commandments will follow. The two most important commandments to keep in mind are love God and love thy neighbor, the pastor says.

Yes they are and God’s rules confines us from sinful behavior that destroys us.If you look at his words you will see either a contradiction or irony or both. He is speaking against following rules yet speaking about following rules there. Either he needs to be more specific about what he means by the word ‘rules’ or he just doesn’t care that he has contradicted everything he just said.

Commandments are rules if you did not know and using the different terms does not change that the fact that those words are synonyms. Again his generalization of the word ‘love’ undermines his point. Love does not mean there are not boundaries and pastors would make their job a lot easier if they spent the time learning the true meanings of the terms they use instead of just throwing them out there and spreading seeds of confusion.

The world’s idea of love, the common church people’s idea of love is not usually the same as the way God uses the term. We need to make sure that the people learn the God’s use of the term and God’s application if we want to get ‘love’ towards God and our neighbor correct.

#7.Following love also gives us purpose, Booher explains, citing Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Rules don’t work with these charateristics, Booher explains; rather, only the Holy Spirit can make things like kindness and goodness become real.

Yes they do unless the rules tell people to disobey those rules of God. That pastor may not realize it but he just wrote down another contradiction as the first paragraph are rules of spiritual behavior and to say that rules do not work with those characteristics is just saying that spiritual rules do not work together with each other.

#8.Lastly, love has the ability to set you free, the pastor says, giving the example of following a diet by suggesting that often times when people are told “no,” they just want to do more of what they’re not supposed to do.

So love sets us free from following the rules of a diet? A diet is a rule or set of rules guiding one’s eating habits thus under the logic presented by that pastor, love sets us free from those rules and we get to eat what we want. How can there be a ‘not supposed to do’ if rules do not matter and love sets you free from them? Rules matter but it is how they are set and where they originate from that is important if we are to determine if they are good and godly rules or those constricting rules of man that restrict one’s life for no real reason other than to oppress others.

That pastor failed in his sermon or the author of that article misrepresented that pastor, one of the two, but without clearly defining what rules he is talking about, he has confused people and included God’s rules in his attempt to get people to ignore rules. One needs to be more specific in what they are talking about or confusion reigns and confusion is not of God.

Love has rules and love rewards obedience not rebellion and the latter is what we call rule breaking and we punish such behavior. Love is not the get out of jail free card that so many pastors and believers use the term. Love is deeper than that and its correct application removes confusion. Love is not anarchy or a removal of boundaries. It guide people to the correct way to live which means following the correct rules- the rules of God.

As a final note, remember that Jesus did not say love removed the responsibility to pay one’s taxes or other obligations. God has placed government in power for a reason and we are to follow governmental rules because we would be defying God if we did not follow the rules of society which do not interfere with God’s rules. Rules are in place for a reason and we need discernment, not just love, to determine which ones awe are to follow and which ones we can disregard.

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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in academics, Bible, church, controversial issues, faith, family, General Life, Justice, leadership, politics, theology


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