I am working with the publisher to have my book out in the next few weeks. (Very excited about the front cover, posted here!) Editing and re-writing have been time consuming, so I have printed one of my favorite past blog articles. Many of you were not following us when we posted this, so it will still be new to you:
Have you ever thought about this: so much of our pain in relationships and in life comes from the problem of Rules. What’s the problem with rules, you ask.
There is nothing wrong with rules in themselves. The problem with rules is that we are expected to keep them. Then we begin to hate the rules. (Some of you, though, are precious little rule-keepers! We like you.)
Another problem is that we create rules for our friendships and marriages, and we build the success of each around how well the rules are being followed, instead of building the relationship around love. When one person breaks the rules, it causes the other person to go “crazy-for-Coco-Puffs”-like in their reaction. And in that “craziness” the offender gets punished. Again, it’s because we are having a relationship with a rule, instead of a relationship with one another.
In the Kingdom of Rules, the rules rule. Everyone is expected to obey the rules. If you break the rules, then the rest of us become afraid, afraid that we will not be able to control you. So to keep you under control, we punish you.
What we fear, we try to control.
Among adults, when someone breaks the rules in marriage, then those of us around the rule-breaker get fearful. In the Kingdom of Rules, punishment is exacted upon the you, the rule-breaker, as an attempt to control you. This control is the reaction of our fear. Fear leads to control, and control is meted out as a punishment. Cheaters, liars, thieves, and trouble-makers are punished. We break up with you, divorce you, slander you on FaceBook, sue you and cut you off. Punishment. That’s pretty much our standard way of dealing with disobedience, right? What’s wrong here?
Nothing about the heart is part of this equation.
Remember, nothing about “punishment” is part of our equation with God. Jesus took that all away when He was Punished for us, when He died on the cross for our rule-breaking. Now, we are always forgiven, continuously forgiven and accepted by Him. We have become un-punishable!
What if we instead de-emphasized rules, and focused on valuing one another and valuing the relationship we have?
Therefore, in the Kingdom of Grace, I won’t need to be afraid when you live ungodly (break rules). I do not need to control you out of my fear. For, I cannot fix you, anyway. In the Kingdom of Grace, relationship is at the heart of the rules. Rule-keeping is what I do to protect the relationship. If I desire a loving relationship with you, then I keep our rules to safeguard the relationship. Relationship is more important than the rules.
In the Kingdom of Grace, instead of fixing you, we should be about helping you understand why you are breaking the rules in the first place. That is, adult to adult, we should help you see what is faulty in your heart, what has you so angry, fearful, shameful, or broken. Then we can speak to you about healing, grace and acceptance, as we await the Kindness of the Lord to grant to you a new vision of how hurtful your rule-breaking was, and a new vision of how you would like to live and love in the relationship. This granting by God of a new vision is called repentance.
Repentance is a gift from God in which He graces a fix for your sin problem, your rule-breaking. We don’t. We can’t fix that. We can’t even make you repent. Instead, our assignment from God is to deal with one another in love, healing each others broken hearts. When my heart gets healed, then maybe I will quit breaking the rules.
Ah, and there’s Pure Heart Weekend. So glad you joined us on that weekend that you came. We weren’t trying to fix you, control you, punish you, or make you more committed to the rules. Others have tried that on you, and you were damaged, ruined, jaded, broken, hardened, rejected and left for worthless. We wanted to give you a taste of grace: the transforming, wonder-working power of God that changes your heart.
In this Kingdom we do have one fear. A healthy fear. We fear that you may not want to show up and let Grace heal you of your rule-breaking.
SHOW UP. TELL YOUR STORY. RECEIVE GRACE. TELL A NEW STORY.
God loves you, and He’s not mad! – Carter
(Reprinted, with some editing, from July 2015)