I wanted to continue to expound a bit on my last blog post. I usually write from the season God has me in and what He is dealing with in my heart. Often I can forget that sharing from my own perspective can fall short of addressing an entire truth. This can lead others to misunderstanding or error and I never want to be guilty of that. While I can never write in a way that will include the perspectives and personalities of everyone, I hope to always stick to the truth as closely as I can. Sometimes I don’t know the truth, don’t understand the truth, or am still working through the truth when I write and I ask you to forgive and excuse me whenever that is the case. I will never claim to be anything more than human.
I want to first clarify my call to walk in the Spirit in the last post. This call is not opposed to God’s rules and boundaries by any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, God’s Spirit will ALWAYS lead us into God’s rules and boundaries. This is because God’s rules and boundaries are simply a revelation of His design. When He says something that is to be obeyed, it is because this is how He designed His creation to function at its best.
Imagine that an architect/engineer sat down and planned out a huge, glorious, amazing building. He designed it down to the detail. He listed out exactly what materials to use and how to put them all together to end up with this incredible finished product. But imagine that he then handed this drawing over to a group of subpar contractors. Some in the group read the design and go to work doing their very best to follow it even though they don’t understand most of it or the vision behind it. Some in the group read the design and decide that they like some of it and really hate some of it. They follow the plans on the things they like, but do whatever they want on the things they hate. Some in the group don’t read the plans and just set to building whatever they want. In this scenario, the end product might turn out looking a little like this broken world.
Now let’s say part of this group of contractors are determined to follow the architect’s design as closely as possible. They know the architect and have seen other things that he has built. They trust his designs and know they always turn out gloriously if they are willingly understood and followed. This group would be constantly in touch with the architect to make sure that they understand exactly what the plan is saying. Any time they were at work and became doubtful or confused or had a question, they would go straight to the architect. The architect would point them right back to the plans and explain them a bit further, clarify, or sometimes ask that they trust him because his vision would be brought about in the end. These subpar contractors would likely make some mistakes along the way, but overall they would carry out the plan. They would get better at their work the more they interacted with the architect and learned to trust him, likely even correcting the work of other contractors who were not following the design. They may even convince some of the other contractors to come follow the plan as these others saw the beauty of the building coming together because of their willingness and passion for the work. This would all only be as a result of sticking close to the architect.
So when I repeat Paul’s prescription for the church to “walk in the Spirit”, in no way am I saying that this is an alternative to Biblical truth. Rather I am saying that this is the only way to truly walk fully in Biblical truth. Walking in the Spirit doesn’t throw out the rules, it simply gives us the relationship with the Creator that we need to follow and even love the rules. The Spirit leads us into all truth and God’s laws are the truth of His design. So while we can certainly set about fruitlessly trying to follow His rules without ever entrusting ourselves to His Spirit, we can never entrust ourselves to His Spirit and expect that we won’t have to follow any rules. For if we reject the truth that He leads us into, there is nothing else to set us free.
Relationship with the Spirit also requires an examining of our motives. When I first gave my heart to Jesus, my motive was to avoid hell. I didn’t much care for having to give up my selfish ways, but I was already pretty good at following rules (or at least appearing to follow them), so it was fairly easy for me to become a law abiding Christian. And this is what most every sermon that I ever heard growing up was focused on. Fear the Lord. Avoid hell. Follow the rules. That’s what Jesus is for. Only the more I lived by the rules, the more I felt a deepening hole in my soul. Something was missing. I was doing all the the right things, but not experiencing any of the fruit that I had been promised. Love. Joy. Peace. Kindness. Gentleness. Self Control. Patience. They were all alluding me. All I was becoming was a superior, judgemental Pharisee with a dictator like God picking at every little thing that I missed. This didn’t make me light and peace to the nations. It trapped me in a prison of religious fear.
The Spirit came to set us free from that prison. He reveals to us the truth. God is not a religious dictator sitting up in heaven waiting to send down lightening bolts when we knock our glass of milk over. He is the God who sends His own precious, innocent Son with a unrefutable message of love to us. He is the precious, innocent Son who comes and willingly gives Himself so that this dirty, filthy sinner can be counted clean. He is the Spirit who knows every single thing that has ever been done to me and how that affects all that I have ever done. He is the ONLY One who can unravel all the guilt, shame, hurt, pain, and yes, even the plain ugly that causes me to sin. He is the Spirit who dwells in me and is constantly pointing out “this is the way I designed it…it only works if you do it this way”.
I have a child who follows all the rules. This child doesn’t do this because this child loves me. This child does this because this child doesn’t like to get in trouble. I have a different child who loves me unashamedly and without a second thought, which sometimes causes this child to disregard or overlook the rules and need more reminders. We have a rule that my children need to knock on my bedroom door if they need me when it is closed. So one child will see my door shut and never even knock on it, while the other will open the door and fly right in just to hug me without even a second thought that the door was closed. I don’t love any of my children more than the others, but I will say that the second child and I have a better relationship. The child who serves out of love for me is much easier to bond with than the child who serves out of fear, even though the child serving out of love breaks more rules. The child who serves out of fear cannot ever keep the rules perfectly and without the cushion of love and trust, the consequences are always scary.
I am not, at all, saying that God wants us to break all the rules. Rather, I am saying that God wants us to know His Spirit, because only by and with His Spirit can we understand the heart behind His instructions. And when we understand the heart behind His instructions, we don’t need fear to keep us in line…we have a loving relationship as the truest of motivators.