Rules, Boundaries and Absolutes

Anyone who parents knows that if you don't give your kids boundaries, they will be reckless, spoiled rotten and impossible. Relationships will suffer or be non existent because others will distance themselves from "those kids." Well, I say God is no different.

God is a God of boundaries.

That's right. This God I serve, he has very clear boundaries set up around me. He does have rules, or guidelines or whatever you want to call them laid out for me. I know the word "rule" has a negative feel these days. Frankly, I think that is because the church has portrayed a very unhealthy version of God and his "rules." The church has added to the things that God deems okay and not okay, making him seem condemning and judgmental when that is so very far from the truth. On the flip side, many in the church have declared they serve God, only to live their lives no different than those who don't profess Christianity. My perspective has changed drastically on this subject in recent years. I grew up believing God was only concerned with all the rules I broke and that I annoyed him with my inability to follow all of them. This made me judgmental towards others too. I was also surrounded by lots of hypocrisy growing up. So, I definitely had a jaded view of God and his boundaries. Either he was condemning and judgmental, or the boundaries didn't matter. That's what I saw.

Well, the boundaries matter.

I've finally come to a place in my life of believing God is full of grace and mercy, that he loves me regardless of how much I obey. I've also come to the place that I believe God's word is firm, regardless of what people in this world do or don't do. It is through that lens that I now say, "yes, God has boundaries that have been set since the beginning of time and he wants me to stay within them." Oh, I have a choice, don't I? I can choose to do what I want, to satisfy my human nature....

but just because I do that doesn't make it okay.

When my kids break the rules, there is a process that follows. I always tell them, it's their choice. They can choose obedience and reap the benefits or they can choose disobedience and reap the consequence. It is because I love them that I keep those boundaries in place, and make sure they see a result for their choice, good or bad. We live in a society that says "make your own rules." I think the world has always been that way. I find security in knowing God's boundaries have been there from the beginning. I like knowing the God I serve is consistent. If I follow that rule, I will see that reward. If I push my way out of that boundary, I will reap that results. Either way, God is unchanging...and I like that about him.

I think there are few lies that the enemy starts screaming when the conversation comes up about God and his boundaries...

I can't control myself... Whatever it is, God promises us that his spirit will bring about change in our lives, one of those things being the strength of self control. (Galatians 5:22) Of course you can't control how you feel, what you say, what you do...unless God is at work in your life. That boundary that you might say you can't stay within, the truth is you can...with God's help.

It's not my fault... Oh, this one...it comes up a lot with my kids. The first thing they want to do is blame each other. Sometimes, "the other" is at fault, but that is not an excuse. Maybe you think you can't live within one of God's boundaries because of the way you were treated by someone, or because of something that happened to you. I can be real, here. I have lots of "excuses" that I could use to go down roads not marked by God. I can easily give you a list of things I struggle with as a result of things that were done to me. No, it wasn't my fault...but it's no excuse either. Remember, God's boundaries haven't changed. His strength is enough, even when you are dealt an unfair hand.

 Other people are doing it... Well, why should that matter? People should never determine the boundaries we set for ourselves. If they do, we will be just like driftwood on the sea drifting whichever way the wind blows. We are all in the same boat, friends. God is our only beacon of hope. If we are doing what we are doing simply because it's the thing to do...well, our life is going to become empty very quickly. God's boundaries, they bring peace and stability. I would rather have peace than the approval of man.

I'll do that after I... The enemy loves it when we use this excuse to skirt around God's truth. We aren't saying we don't agree with God. We aren't saying we shouldn't be doing that...we're just putting it off. I think this one plays into our finances a lot. God is pretty clear about how we should manage our money, but man...it's hard to actually do it, right? We have good intentions, we see the value of what God says, but we don't actually follow those guidelines when push comes to shove because we've made ourselves feel better by promising to do it...eventually.

It's just too hard... Well, I won't pull any punches here. Yes, it's harder to follow God's path instead of the world's. It is harder to say no too things that everyone says is perfectly fine. It's hard to follow a standard that makes you the odd man out. It's harder...but is that an excuse? Jesus gave himself so we could follow God with joy and freedom instead of carrying the weight of our inability. Sure, his way is harder...but he doesn't ever call us to do things he doesn't equip us to do. His spirit is alive in us, giving us all the strength we need to overcome the hard stuff.

Call it rules, call it boundaries, call it whatever...it's all real, unchanging and unrelenting. I feel the burden of those who choose to walk outside of God's boundaries knowing that they will eventually face the consequences of their choices. Maybe I won't see all those consequences of all those choices, but I've seen enough to know that we all reap what we sow. When we push our way outside of those boundaries God has set in place, we leave the place of safety and security. We don't loose his love, that can never happen, but we can walk away from him with our choices. We can choose to look him in the face and say, "I don't want to follow that rule," but that doesn't change the rule nor does it change the validity of God's truth.

His word is absolute and he is unchanging...

forever and always.

"The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God will stand forever." Isaiah 40:8

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