Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus. We went in the wrong direction.
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Many people have a negative view of Christianity because they see it as a system of oppressive rules. Much of this view comes from some Christians themselves who (like the Pharisees) frequently attempt to show off their Christian 'achievements' in rule keeping. Some of it comes from English words like 'obey' and 'commandment' which have come to convey the idea of robot-like compliance.

Exasperated parents can sometimes wish their children would demonstrate robot-like compliance, however, they usually come to understand that their children have to learn for themselves the value of parental decrees. This parent/child relationship can illustrate Godís desire for us. Just as a parent wishes his child to come to understand the wisdom and advantage of that to which the parent exhorts, God wishes us to come to understand the value of that which he has told us.

As we grow in understanding, we begin to see in a word like 'commandment' less of a rule we are obligated to observe and more of a precept (closer to the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words) that is intended to protect us. Consider something like the biblical prohibition of murder. It does not take much understanding to see how committing murder would ruin your own life not to mention that of others.

Just as a parent who tells his child not to play in the street has reasons that the child may not yet understand, biblical prohibitions also have reasons. Stealing, coveting, fornication, drunkeness, and similar prohibitions have reasons that may not at first be apparent. However, as one grows in understanding, the wisdom of such injunctions becomes increasingly obvious.

Just as a child that suddenly runs out into the street in front of a speeding car will pay a price for disobedience, those of us who fail to see the wisdom in the precepts (commandments) of God, may also encounter painful consequences. There is a richness in the Christian life that comes from growing in wisdom and understanding. However, when the Christian focus is on a set of rules without understanding the wisdom behind them, the Christian life can be impoverished.

There is a bible verse that says, 'wisdom is justified by her children'. This means that the works one does demonstrate that their source is from wisdom. Obedience is not a Herculean demonstration of the effort one can muster to restrain evil, but rather the result of the understanding and wisdom one has to see the truth of a precept. Just as it does not take much effort to resist plunging a table fork into oneís eye, those things that are harmful, when fully understood, also represent less temptation.

Obedience is not so much an achievement, but the result of coming to a full and mature understanding of truth such that disobedience is seen as hazardous. The Christian life should be marked with the blessings of constantly increasing wisdom, understanding, and discernment. If one finds oneself in a joyless drudgery of rule keeping, one might ask himself if he is really a Christian or if he has received inadequate Christian instruction.



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