My teens regularly ask me why we have rules about all kinds of things. When I answer, I try to speak to the heart of the matter. Rules are like protective boundaries but obedience comes out of a heart of love and gratefulness.
Reading the Old Testament, it is easy to see why Christianity is often viewed as a list of dos and don’ts. The Torah alone (the first five books of the Old Testament) lists 613 “mitzvot” (commandments). When you add to that total, centuries of rabbinical traditions that created another set of rules about how to keep the first rules…and then the traditions and customs well… you get my drift.
Actually, God had a plan for these rules all along.
He purposefully created a set of rules that He knew we humans could not keep. An annual sacrifice of a pure and unmarked lamb to absolve the lot of our collective inabilities to keep His laws was the only solution to our failed obedience.
Then, in one amazing fell swoop, God sent a perfect replica of Himself. We Christians call Him Jesus, the God-man – to fill in for the annual lamb. For 33 years, Jesus lived a 100% pure and perfect (read: sinless) life. He de-emphasized rules and got to the heart of matters. When he was murdered, he became the human version of the sacrificial lamb. But this time, God was satisfied for all time. And we, out of love, desire to keep God’s commandments and receive His blessings.
So now, we’re free from the list of dos and don’ts that handcuffed us all those years ago. Now, loves compels us to follow God’s rules as a matter of choice. Our choice.
Because Jesus’ choice was to buy our freedom, we am no longer slaves to the law.