The image one often has of Christians is that, because they believe, they are not allowed to do the nice things and must do the nasty things. To be honest, it is also common for believers to give the impression that the Christian life consists of living according to certain dress codes, observing a set of Sunday rules, and staying away from those very things that everyone else considers entertaining.
Artistic expressions such as dance and music are considered suspect, the fairground and the cinema belong to the realm of evil, and television is the “devil in the house. On the other hand, we give the impression that the only good life consists of Christian activities such as old-fashioned church services, catechisms where long pieces of difficult text have to be learnt and recited by heart, youth clubs and singing at the organ.
Understandably, if this is roughly the image of faith that Christians give off, their environment is not exactly eager to join the Christian community.
WHAT ABOUT IT?
First of all, we would like to note that the Christian faith is a message of freedom. By freedom we do not mean that you are free to do whatever you want. That is not freedom; that is hedonism, being addicted to your own pleasure. No, by freedom we mean the freedom to live the good life. Freedom is experienced because as a human being you may live by forgiveness.
The certainty that, thanks to Jesus, all is well between God and us and that we are loved unconditionally takes the cramp out of our lives. We don’t have to earn our being loved by observing certain do’s and don’ts. We may be relaxed in life.
BUT ARE THERE NO RULES THEN?
The Christian life can be seen as living in a love relationship. When you are in a relationship you start to take into account the one you love. You adapt to the desires of the other. Not because you have to, but because you love your partner. And the longer you hang out together, the better you get at understanding what makes the other happy and what disappoints the other.
You take this into account because life with the other is not a limitation, but an enrichment. This is how you may also see life with God. In dealing with God – through prayer and Bible reading – you get a better idea of what He likes to see in your life.
GUIDELINES FOR PROTECTION
That’s what God wants. That life be good. God doesn’t give us rules to make life difficult for us, but guidelines to protect our lives. You can compare it to traffic rules. We can only participate safely in traffic if we all follow those rules. Those who think they are free to deviate from the rules should try driving on the left side of the road for a while. It is precisely by obeying the rules that you can participate freely.
The Bible, God’s word, wants to provide, as it were, a safe enclosure within which you may freely experience the good life. Just as a fish is made for the water, man is made for life within that enclosure. Outside the water there is no life for the fish.
Likewise, life outside God’s fence is not good for man. Inside that fence, life is good, much is possible and much is allowed. Everything that makes God happy and count on it that God grants you wholeheartedly to enjoy the good life! But also count on the fact that everything outside that fence is not worth trying.