"That Jesus stuff, it's just a bunch of rules. I don't need anyone to tell me how to live my life." I hear this same sentiment over and over and over. It's probably one of the most common reasons people give for not wanting to hear about Jesus.
When I hear someone say this, I quickly realize they are sharing an experience they have had with people- not with Jesus. Because if you read the bible you will find there is so much more than just a bunch of rules. There are stories of adventure and love and healing and redemption. There are lavish parties and kingdoms; battles and prisoners. Miracles and mercy...so much mercy.
And, of course, there are a few rules. We like to call them commandments. Some of them are "do's"- love God, love your neighbor. Some of them are "do nots"- do not murder, do not steal.
So, why do we have the commandments? I was talking about this topic with my Awana group of 3rd-grade boys last night. We talked about the path of life, this journey of faith that we are traveling. I asked the boys if they had ever followed a path through the woods. Someone mentioned that they had recently visited a cornfield maze. That was the perfect example. I thought about the high stalks of corn that you can't see past. I was reminded how very important it is to stay on the path, to trust the carved-out road before me even when I can't see what's around the next corner.
And then I thought of how often the word of God uses the word path. Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
Jesus came to us to give us life, abundant life. And the commandments of the bible are given to us as boundaries, to keep us safe.
Abundant life is found in the pursuit of holiness. Abundant life is found in the harvest of righteousness. Abundant life is found along the path that Jesus has carved out for us.
Jesus did not die on the cross to make bad people good, he died to give us life-abundant life.