We Follow Jesus, Not Rules

“The greatest command is this: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and all your strength. The second command is like to it: to love your neighbor as yourself. On these depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

“A new command I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

“I give you a new command, though it is not a new command, but an old one, that you should love one another.”

“By this do we know that we love God: that we love our brothers and sisters. Whoever does not love the brother or sister he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen.”

“I, the LORD, look at the heart.”

This is the “Law” of the Christian Life, the heart of Christian “morality.” It is not about rules or regulations or laws, but about love, about the heart. Why matters a great deal more than what. Thus, God’s true law, the one He has shown to us in the life of His beloved Son, and the one which He has given to us to follow, is that of love, not of judgment or the strict adherence to rules.

Regulations and rules are the consequence of the Fall, the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They have nothing to do with the fruit of the Tree of Life, and they are part of the whole outlook of sin from which Jesus frees us by His Resurrection. “For whatever is not of faith, that is sin.” Christianity is about looking to Jesus and living the way we want to live because we know He loves us and so we love Him and we know that He rose from the dead and that we share in His Resurrection and will live with Him forever. Thus, the only law is Love, for God is Love.

A lot of people think that there are a lot of other laws one has to follow to be a follower of Jesus, and these laws come for them before any understanding about God’s nature and character. God does not want us to follow a rule because we think it came from Him. He wants us to do what we understand to be good and loving (whether we can explain quite how we know this or not). He wants our actions to flow from a heart that knows that He loves us and everything else that is, and that Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death, and so there is nothing to fear and all creation will be raised with Him and share in the glory of the Child of God. He wants us to have a relationship with Him, not with a list of rules we follow and which we use to judge others and ourselves, to condemn and categorize actions as “good” or “evil”; such rules and judgments are the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After all, Jesus Himself said, “Do not judge.”

Do not live by rules. Do not judge either yourself or others as Christians by laws or regulations. The test is love. Do you see the One who laid down His life for us in this? Do you see the One who rose victorious from the grave in this? Do you see the love that always forbears and always hopes in this? Do you see the Resurrection in this? Live from the understanding that God is Love and that death is conquered, and do not judge your neighbor. Following Jesus is not adherence to rules and regulations, but faith: living in belief that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him, confessing that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and has risen from the dead. This is Christianity, not adherence to any of the rules or regulations or dogmas that men have made up after the fact, and it is a cruel thing for them to say that those who do not follow their laws or believe their dogmas cannot confess that Jesus is the Son of God and Man and has risen from the dead, and that eternal life is found in His Name. There is no need to believe other dogmas or doctrines or to follow other laws in order to be a follower of the One who promised, “Lo! I am with you always, unto the end of the age.” He is here, and He is the Risen One. That belief, and the striving to live it out in our lives as we are guided by His presence, to live in the understanding that God loves us and desires our happiness and that Jesus has conquered death for us and is always with us, is what makes us disciples of Jesus. We know that we are His followers not because of the rules or regulations we follow, or the dogmas we believe, but because we confess that He is the Son of God and has risen from the dead, and therefore there is no need to fear death or anything else, and because we love our fellows (for we have seen God in the face of Jesus, but it is our fellows whom we are able to feed, to work for their good, to go hungry so they may eat, or to forbear in kindness, not striving for our way; it is not that God is far from us or not present to us, for indeed He is with us, nearer than our own souls to us, but that we cannot show Him love as we can show love to those whom we know in the body).

 

Copyright 2021 Raina Nightingale

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