"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."
Sometimes in the course of "religious" discussions I've come across people who express a sense of amazement at how few rules and regulations there are in New Testament Christianity. I'll say this up front that I am from more of a Protestant background so I can't speak of Tradition that Catholics and perhaps Orthodox Christians adhere to. Maybe the rules are in Tradition. But for me, I tend to let the Bible be my guide. And while there are many wonderful aspects to the Old Testament - like examples of faithful men and women of God and the glorious promises of God in the Prophets and the Psalms written by David and others - I tend to base much of my life on the life of Jesus as described by his followers in the New Testament.
And, no, there are not a lot of rules.
In fact Jesus summed up all the Law and the Prophets with this: love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as you love yourself.
And when asked who was considered a neighbor, Jesus gave the equivalent of the Israelis and Palestinians today by using a Samaritan man as the hero in a "Jewish story." So, yes, even your enemy is considered your neighbor and Jesus said you need to love him or her like you love yourself.
Still people want guidelines. What do we do in the case of divorce? What do we do in regards to inheritance rights for women? What do we eat? What about this or that or the other situation here?
Most of the people who have expressed surprise - OK all of the ones - have been Muslims who are used to very detailed instructions on things they must do, things they must not do, suggested ways to do things and preferred ways to do things. I know I bring this up on occasion, but it's because I was so shocked when I first began studying more about Islam and saw they even had suggested ways to enter, use and clean yourself after using the bathroom. Apparently the ahadith is chock full of rules and regulations so a Muslim used to such a way of life is appalled at the lack of direction we Christians must face!
|Christ frees us from the weight of rules. We are free to love God and serve others!|
You know how I think?
God gives us principles for living in this world. Some of us He put in restricted nations like China where in some areas you cannot worship God freely. Some He put in free countries where we can worship or not worship God such as is the case in my own country. For whatever reason, God put us in all kinds of countries with different levels of freedom. Do I think He wanted the believers in God who are scattered all over the globe to come together and make a nation called God's Country or Christendom or Islamostan?
I think people have tried such things and failed! Did Christianizing the Roman Empire bring Jesus' qualities of love for enemies and "going the extra mile" and "the greatest among you is the one who serves" to the people en masse?
Instead it seems power corrupts. Whether that is "Christian" power or "Islamic" power or atheistic power, we have to guard against corruption.
I believe God wanted us to have His principles for living and then to live those out within the countries in which He placed us. Society changes for the better when God changes hearts and lives not when we are made to wear certain clothes or not do this or that by legislation or police enforcing good morals. And for certain marching into other lands trying to change people's minds by sword or bombs is not the answer!
I still remember when I read Karen Armstrong's book and she said Muhammad cared about his family and friends in Mecca so he tried getting their attention by raiding their caravans. This seems so bizarre! You show you care by stealing from others?
For those from Europe marching into other lands: you try to convert the masses while at the same time you steal their natural resources?
For me, Jesus gave us guidelines on how to live. He lived at a time when Palestine was occupied by Romans yet he never called for an uprising although a number of the Jewish people were ready for that. This is one reason Jesus was rejected as Messiah! The Jews thought their Messiah was going to free Palestine from the occupying Romans.
But Jesus came instead with a message of love and turning back to God. It seemed he was more concerned with their spiritual states than the fact they were physically occupied by an infidel nation!
So no I don't have a list of rules telling me how much I can inherit, how many other wives my husband can take or even my rights in the case of divorce. I live in the United States and my country has a number of rules covering such issues. My spiritual role is to live like Jesus within my own country.
And for you, the same.
|One who loves doesn't need rules to tell him how to treat others.|
Love God. Love others.
Whether you are in the United States, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, China, Britain or Venezuela.
If we love God and love others - and treat people like we want to be treated ourselves - just how many rules and regulations do we really need?
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Gal 5:22,23)