It began as a joke . . . “Rule #1”. Three simple words born out of necessity–since our camper is equipped with comfortable sleep space and a kitchen of sorts but no bathroom. Simply saying,“Rule #1” expressed what was needed when “nature” called. What inspired it? I’m not sure. Perhaps it was the thought of traveling together 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week for two months? Maybe. But it more likely was an attempt to streamline communication between us–given that my husband’s communication style aligns with “morse code” (one and two word responses are his specialty), while my own falls more into the realm of “s~c~r~i~p~t” (using a multiplicity of delightful, descriptive words that, at times, turn into a maze if I’m not careful.) Whatever the inspiration, Rule #1 not only reduced the tension that can accompany such a call, it also added a bit of humor. In the end, Rule #1 kept traveling from becoming more complicated than necessary. Even now, it comes up on occasion–though not with the same urgency–causing us to smile at the private little joke we share.
In the weeks after returning home, I thought a lot about how simply saying, “Rule #1,” served to reduce what can be a potential stressor for travelers. Yet, when it comes to rules, we humans tend to balk at the thought of our “rights” being impinged upon. Growing up, I remember embracing the notion that, “Rules are meant to be broken” with a certain amount of glee. That changed, however, after getting to know new neighbors who moved in next to my parents home. Having recently moved to the US from Denmark, Henry talked about living in Denmark during the WWII Nazi Occupation. What shocked Henry, was not the behavior of the Nazi’s, but “what neighbor did to neighbor” when the rule of law was no longer enforced. I’ll never forget the look on Henry’s face as he talked about his neighbors doing, “things that would have been unthinkable before the war.” Looking at the world through Henry’s eyes, I learned to appreciate the order and security that well placed and maintained rules can bring to society.
Reflecting on our own time, as secularism is so brazenly removing God’s rule–ie, the physical removal of the Ten Commandments in the public arena as well as the principles they represent–we find ourselves in a moral crisis like never before. We have forgotten the simple direction of the Golden Rule—“Treat others as you would have them treat you”*–as we emphasize “building our self-esteem”. The consequences? Consider the warning the Apostle Paul wrote in what is believed to have been his last letter before he was beheaded for his allegiance to Christ:
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud,
abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving,
slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,
treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
having a form of godliness but denying its power.
Have nothing to do with such people.”
II Timothy 3:1-5
As complaints of loneliness and depression skyrocket and as we worship created things rather than our Creator, it is no wonder that darkness has become so pervasive.
The good news is that all is not lost. The Bible tells us that Christ came to free sinners (you, me and our neighbor) burdened by our sinful penchant to live as we think best. The declaration the Apostle Paul makes in Galatians 5:1 lightens the heart of the repentant as it speaks assurance to all who trust in Christ:
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves
be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
To surrender self-rule to the Rulership of Christ,
is to discover true freedom to live for, love and serve Him with glad hearts.
So how are we to live out this amazing freedom? That’s where Rule #1 comes in. When questioned about what He considered the greatest of God’s Commandments in Mark 12:30-31, Jesus narrowed our responsibilities down to two:
Rule #1: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Rule #2: “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Faith that pleases God is intentionally placed on Him, first and foremost–Rule #1.
It is the fruit of that love relationship,
that strengthens and blesses us to pass on the light of His love
–no matter who the other person may be.
This afternoon my husband and I were waiting for a table at a local coffee house. We waited quite a while until a table was vacated and gratefully moved toward it. All of a sudden, a woman who seemed to come out of nowhere, darted past my husband and claimed it for herself! I confess feeling a certain amount of irritation that raised very quickly in my heart as we moved back to the side and watched the woman and her husband enjoy OUR table! I am embarrassed to admit that it took a few minutes before I recognized the opportunity to apply Rule #1. When I did, I couldn’t resist giggling at my silliness as I decided to love that dear woman–she obviously needed that table more than we did! As I reflected on God’s love for me, the irritation vanished as I gave thanks to God for freeing me to love Him as He loved me.
As we determine to put Rule #1 in the forefront of our thinking,
the possibilities are limitless.
Without a doubt, this crazy kind of loving with the hope and light of Jesus,
has the potential to change this world one heart at a time!
All to His Glory!