Following Jesus, I find a standard for living that I cannot compromise. It doesn’t allow for compromise…and not because it’s some legalistic thing that must be completed. Whether it’s for myself or for other people, it is love that lays out the expectation. It is the love of God and for God that compels us to speak in His love to those who are walking outside of His love’s desire.
Think about it this way, if you will, What do you expect when you go to an amusement park? Here’s a quick list: rides, food, music, water park, games, souvenir shops, people in costume, lines, dirty bathrooms, expensive food, huge parking lots, and a very set understanding of what is allowed and not allowed within the boundaries of that park. And for the most part, we’re okay with it. I have never felt anger or hostility to the kid running the roller coasters who tells me not to stand up during the ride. Personally, I think that’s a valuable piece of advice that is going to profit my health and maintain the structural integrity of my physical body. I like that rule. I understand that rule. It’s a good rule. Someone cared enough to put that one in writing.
What about “Line jumpers will be ejected from the park.’? That one seems a little harsh to me. If I was the one writing the rules, I would just make them get out of that line and move along somewhere else within the park. But in many places, this is a pretty standard rule. No one consulted me on this one. It’s a little strong for my liking, like, I’m not sure if the punishment fits the crime…but it’s ultimately not my call to make. So I abide by it.
I don’t walk into the park telling people that things are going to run my way and according to my likes & dislikes, my preferences and schedule. That would not only be the height of arrogance, but it would also be a monument to stupidity. People researched and learned what will work best for a public amusement park long before I considered buying a ticket. Many hours of legal counsel were accumulated to help lay out these standards & I don’t have the expertise to contest them soundly.
I can speak preference, I can speak to what I want, but really? These rules are meant to maintain something that is enjoyable, something that is fun. And if that fun is going to be life-giving rather than life-breaking or life-ending then I’m going to wait in line and remain seated on the roller coaster. I see the value in those rules, and so I will not compromise on them. I’m not going to be satisfied with less.
But let’s take this half a step further…ultimately, what’s the objective of an amusement park? What is the M.O. of the people who run them? They want to see people laugh, scream and have fun, right? (And, yes, to make money in the process 😉) They began this work because someone, somewhere wanted to see families, friends and communities get together in a shared experience and have a good time. So, rules were set up to maintain this good, positive outcome.
But human beings are broken. There are people who live to break rules and there are people who seem to live to make broken rules. Rules based in corrupted intent can lead to suffering, even in the name of some ‘greater good’ that isn’t greater or good for anyone. And we do need to be aware of broken, human systems. Many bad things have happened under the umbrella of someone else’s “good.”
Let’s bring this back around though, when we talk about the love of God & His desire for what is really and truly best for us, these are not broken, human systems. God, in His holiness, wisdom, provision and care has laid out what is right & good, what is wise and best. If you don’t like the rules at the amusement park, don’t go. If you don’t like what God lays out? Well, that’s a very different discussion. The analogy falls apart there.
As a child, my parents kept me from harm as a child because they loved me. They didn’t look at my desire to walk out into the street and say, “Well, that’s what his heart wants.” because that would be some terrible parenting. They didn’t look at my desire to not go to bed and say it was a decision that I needed to make for myself. They knew and understood that children have a terrible concept of personal safety and personal upkeep. Children don’t come wired with a good understanding of how to maintain healthy circadian rhythms…but parents can definitely see when it’s time for Junior to get to bed. It’s no great mystery.
So why then, as adults, do we suddenly think we understand everything about life. You and I both know that there is an element of ‘making it up as we go along’ that is inherent to being an adult. And so God’s rules and desires benefit us today just like they did when we were kids.
And if we want a quality of life that is unmatched/unrivaled then we need to humbly acknowledge that His ways are indeed better, and that the wisdom of the One who spoke light into existence probably knows better than I do how to handle life’s little hiccups. Don’t be satisfied with less than His best. It’s the smart way to live. Being loved beyond your understanding is no cruelty, it is simply an opportunity to see how deep that love goes, even as it keeps you from a harm you intended to do to yourself in ignorance.
2 Corinthians 10:5
“5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
1 Peter 5:5-11
“5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lionlooking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”