I heard a story the other day, told by one of my new favorite actors. He’s sort of a free spirit, as most actors are, and he was telling a story about how he hates stupid rules. There was some rule outside a museum that didn’t allow parents to carry their children on their shoulders. A liability issue, or so said the museum guard. So the actor just waited until the guard wasn’t looking and hefted his son on his shoulders again, explaining to his son that rules are okay to break if they’re stupid.
Of course, it backfired on him. A few days later, his son was walking on their dinner table. His dad reminded him that the house rule was that you don’t put your feet on the place where you eat, but his son responded that it was a stupid rule. So he could break it because it was stupid.
Yeah. Lesson learned there.
Regardless of how much we like or dislike rules, there’s something really important about them that we need to remember. Rules are often there for our protection. And while some rules are really stupid, there’s one set of rules that are never wrong and never in bad taste.
Today’s verses are Hebrews 5:7-8.
While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.
Yeah, you read that right. Even Jesus had to obey what God told Him. And technically Jesus is God, but how that works is beyond me. I just think it’s interesting, because so many times I think we get the idea that the rules don’t apply to us.
When the Bible clearly indicates a particular rule about life and living, if we don’t like it, it’s easy to fall back on God’s grace or the theology of eternal salvation. And it’s true. Christ-followers aren’t under the authority of the law, and there’s nothing we can do to lose our salvation (because we can’t do anything to earn it!). But that doesn’t mean we are exempt from obeying.
If even Jesus had to obey God, how much more important is it for us to obey!
But Jesus had a perspective on God that some of us have trouble with. He recognized (or recognizes) God as the one all-powerful decision maker, the Sovereign of the universe, the only Person with the true right to issue commands, the only One entitled to order us around. That’s God. And I don’t think people really get that.
Personally, I struggle with this thing called Pride. I like doing things my own way. If I hear a rule I don’t like, I decide it’s stupid, and I do what I want. Sometimes it works out fine (most of the time, if I’m being honest), but not always.
And I’m not talking about driving rules or copyright rules or the rules of etiquette. Honestly, I don’t think God cares if you eat your salad with the proper fork or not. I’m talking about the rules He has set down for living a life that honors Him, a life that He can bless.
Forgiveness. Loving your enemies. Honoring your parents. Respecting your authorities (even if they’re functioning morons). Putting others before yourself. Trusting God with your finances, your family, your future. No, it’s not easy, but God never promised it would be easy. He just promised we wouldn’t have to do it alone.
Forgiveness is one of God’s rules, and there are no exceptions to it. Forgive.
Loving your enemies is one of God’s rules. No exceptions, Christian.
If you say you follow Christ, live like it. Even Jesus had to do it. Do you think He wanted to go to the cross? Do you think it was something He looked forward to? No! He knew it needed to be done, but haven’t you ever done something you didn’t want to do because you knew it was necessary? Did you enjoy it?
The Bible tells us that it was God’s will that Jesus suffer on the cross. God sent Jesus to die for us, and Jesus obeyed. Are you really going to tell God that His rules don’t apply to you when He tells you to forgive that person who hurt you? Do you really have the stomach to tell God you don’t trust Him when He has commanded that you let Him have control of your life?
Obedience isn’t easy, especially if you’re a proud, independent type. (I’m raising my hand guiltily here.) But if Jesus couldn’t get out of obeying God, I can’t either. And in the end, obedience is always better because God’s rules aren’t stupid. God’s rules are designed to help me live a life He can bless. And who doesn’t want God’s blessings?