What the Rules Couldn't Do
One of my best friends from my childhood illustrates this so well. We sort of grew up together. He was a couple of years older than me, but I spent a lot of time at his house, especially on Sunday afternoons. It was the highlight of my life to be able to go out to his house for Sunday dinner, then an afternoon of watching TV (we didn’t have one at my house then), and a game of football. He had three other brothers, so we always had a good time playing in their huge front yard.
But when my friend got into high school, something began to change. He still came to church. His father saw to that. In fact, his father saw to a lot of things. Don’t get me wrong, his dad really loved the Lord, but, when it came to his family, he was all about the law. When it came to the rule book, you’d call him an “enforcer,” and enforce he did . . . with gusto! I remember hearing the story of how that father actually broke down the door when their sister had, in rebellion, locked herself in her room, so, when I say he was an enforcer, I mean, he was an enforcer.
So, you understand what I mean when I say he came to church. His dad made sure of it. There was only one problem. While his father could make him come to church spiritually, he certainly couldn’t make him come spiritually or even mentally. As he got older, I began to hear gossip about him being involved with drugs and living a sinful life, and I later found out, first hand, that this was true. You see, the father was trying to enforce the rules, but somehow it wasn’t working. He was raising a rebel. You know, I remember many times looking across the sanctuary at him only to see him in an almost trance-like state, staring off into space. He never got up and shouted; he never ran from the room and slammed the back door in rebellion; I doubt that he ever argued about coming to church, but while his rebellion never showed outwardly, inwardly he was in the throes of an absolute insurrection. I remember during those times thinking: “He’s spiritual toast! He’s not going to make it. He’s going to end up out of church and maybe even addicted to drugs.”
But then came youth camp. It was probably around 1974. God really moved on that camp that year, and believe it or not, this rebel was touched. He didn’t get in touch with the rules, he got in touch with Jesus, and his whole life changed. He ended up attending FWBBC, became a Christian school principal, and today is in Afghanistan as a Chaplain’s assistant with the guard. Here’s the point: Where an earthly father’s rulebook failed, a real relationship with Jesus succeeded. When he came to understand the full of Christ, that rebellious heart that refused to give into the rules was infused with a love that made the rulebook unnecessary