Rules, Rules, Rules

Today’s scripture: Gal 4:8-20 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Terri Brown):

Rules are made to be broken. I cannot remember the first time I heard that phrase, but I do know that at first it was confusing and did not make sense. But slowly I came to an understanding that this was not a phrase to be taken literally but figuratively, as there are a multitude of connotations to be derived from this idea. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, appears to touch on how laws and rules are imperfect. He addresses the group by describing what they were like before they knew GOD, when they honored pagan traditions and much like many of us today were entrenched in worldly goods and worldly ways.

But now that you know God–or rather are known by God17–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved18 by them all over again? Vs 9

Paul recalled when the Galatians accepted him and even his afflictions. They listened to the WORD and became followers. But now it appears they have decided to return to the “old ways” and are easily swayed to participate in celebrations and customs which may have been created for some decree or act by a ruler but did not coincide with the Gospel.

Paul speaks of how he felt welcomed and accepted by this group in spite of his differences and “out of the box” teachings (just like Jesus). Both may have contradicted the Old Testament and the Laws of Moses, but the Galatians, like other followers and Christians, were ready for a change. We accept forward movement for justice in our day and time; we support equal rights for ALL people: marriage equality, anti-discriminatory laws, etc. All of these are principles that in recent years were considered progressive thinking, liberal, too open-minded, forward thinking, and were actions and thoughts taken on by broadminded activists. But a law had to be created so more narrow-minded folks would be forced to accept ALL people for who they are.

Thus Paul wrote to the Galatians and many of us today to ask us to “Grow Up!” He compares us to children in the early stages of Christianity and being all excited about the newness and welcoming all the aspects of the teachings and new way of thinking. But somehow fear takes over, and we fall into old patterns, afraid to break the rules and afraid to not follow the masses. Like young, immature teens who take up with gangs for the companionship and follow the rules regardless of the legality, we show a need to belong.

We all can belong to God’s Gang and do the right thing by taking time to pray and just pause before acting on some thought or feeling that may be troublesome. God has the answers, and if we listen with our hearts we can always be guided to follow the course God wants us to continue.

Remember saying, “But everybody’s doing it.” We said this when our parents put parameters on us and felt like we were the only ones not allowed to do whatever it is we asked to do. Instead our parents cared enough to say “no.” When we have figured this out, we have matured to that point of understanding of why there are differences and that rules do exist and some people will break them. Some people will use them to set an example, others will use them for power, and still others will use them out of ignorance. So, as we mature, we can learn to discern which rules apply to which group and how they impact each of us individually.

Thought for the day: Rules offer needed boundaries that we must address in making life choices, but don’t be afraid to push a rule aside if the Spirit of God leads you down a different path. Let God’s love be your guide.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.