“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”
“We all have a love/hate relationship with rules. On one hand, rules provide structure and predictability. On the other, they restrict our freedom to do what we want, when we want. The problem with religious rules is that they usually run contrary to human nature. That makes them really hard to follow. And we assume that when we don’t follow the rules, God rejects us. But is that really true?
To answer that, let’s look at two different scenarios where you’re expected to follow the rules. Growing up, your parents probably had rules for you. Yet on the day you were born, your mom didn’t recite those rules to you before hugging you close. In a ‘family model’, the relationship comes before the rules.
Now think about joining a health club, country club, or even accepting a new job. Step one is signing a contract agreeing to abide by the group’s rules. In a ‘club model’, the rules precede the relationship – agreeing to them comes first and breaking them usually gets you kicked out.
So which of these models reflects the way God operates? The answer is in the most famous rules in history, the Ten Commandments.
First, some context: the descendants of Adraham (God’s chosen man) became the nation of Israel (God’s chosen people). To escape famine, they migrated to Egypt, where they worked as slaves for four hundred years. Moses eventually led them out of slavery and it was during their long journey back home that they set up camp at the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses received God’s rules.
The sequence of those events is important. It answers the question of whether God operates on the ‘family model’ or the ‘club model’. God rescued His people from slavery. Then He gave them His rules.
Just to be sure we don’t miss it, here’s the opening line of the Ten Commandments, before any talk of rules: ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’ From the very beginning, God adopted the ‘family model’. Relationship first, rules second.
It was true for the nation of Israel and it’s true for you. It’s what we read today in John 1:12: ‘to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.’ Did you catch those words? ‘Children of God.’ Not ‘members of the club.’ Children.”
Reproduced from the YouVersion Bible app plan “Unconvinced: Exploring Faith as a Sceptic”, day 4.
It’s a fine point to make but a valuable one. For the vast majority of Christians around the world, we come to faith and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior, then we learn the rules of behavior after, as we go along. Like our natural children, we are born into God’s family through the Spirit, and then learn the ropes as we grow in the faith.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.