Read John 7:10-24

I have a confession. I am a rule-follower. I can’t help but pledge my allegiance to the obedience of the law. Apparently, I have been this way all my life. There is a huge part of me that wishes I can act/think/look/work outside of the rule-following box. Bending and stretching rules has been something I have always been good at, because it was always my way around straight up rule-breaking (and anyone that has played a night game at Delanco Camp with me wishes that I were just a rule-breaker rather than a rule-bender). There are many others I know who are rule-breakers… and since I am being honest, I envy them. They are less legalistic when it comes to God. Sometimes I wonder if rule-following is a curse that forces us to remain within unhealthy parameters.

When I think of the rule-followers in Scripture, the first that come to mind are the Pharisees. In John 7, Jesus challenges these rule-followers to think beyond the letter of the law. Jesus is referring to the rule-breaking that he did in Mark 2 when he healed a man on the Sabbath. Immediate questions come to mind: Why wouldn’t it ever be a good idea to heal a man? Since when do we put a limit to the health and well-being of a fellow human being? Shouldn’t the relationship with that man supersede any issues
with the letter of the law?

In my case, it always seems that my shortsightedness stems from my devotion to the rules and laws. When putting so much energy in following the rules, it is easy to overlook everything and everyone outside the rules. It is way too simple to neglect those around me when I am trying to be obedient to the rules. Maybe… just maybe, we are looking at our obedience in the wrong light. Maybe we are being obedient not by following the rules, but by being more like Jesus and focusing on those around us.

In what areas of your life are you missing out on because you are too focused on being a rule-follower? How often do we focus too much on the letter of the law and miss out on the well-being of another? How do you need to act/think/look/work outside the rule-following box so that your obedience is focused on the right things?

Dave Falcone is the pastor of youth ministries at Hope Church in Voorhees and is the chair of the property and grounds committee at camp.

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