“Sometimes God’s rules are hard,” Nikko states as he stuffs his backpack, preparing to meet the bus.
“Yeah? What do you mean?”
I watch the coffee fill my mug.
“Well, all the things we need to do, you know, the rules.”
We forget sometimes that rules are a very big part of a nine-year-old’s life.
“You mean like being kind and not lying…stuff like that?”
“Yeah, God has a lot of rules. And I mess up. And sometimes I forget.”
I know this well.
“Let me ask you this. Do you follow God’s rules so that he can accept you, so that he doesn’t look at you and see you doing bad things?”
“Well, let’s look at it this way. None of us can follow all the rules, all the time. Most of us can’t even follow most of the rules most of the time.
Only Jesus was perfect. Only Jesus never sinned, never broke one single rule.
That’s why he chose to do that hardest thing and die on the cross: because he alone could be good enough for God to accept. And Jesus’ perfect life and his death would make it possible for God to look at you and me and not even see when we break the rules. We don’t have to follow all God’s rules.”
“Nope, not if we don’t want to. But, when we think about what Jesus did for us, we want to live more like he did because we’re so thankful.”
He’s lacing his shoes, now, looping and knotting, secure.
“So are you thankful, Nikko?”
“Do you believe that Jesus made it possible for God to see his Nikko boy and see a perfect kid?”
However, that’s why Jesus did it, let them nail him to a cross. Because he knew you couldn’t do it on your own, or me, or anyone. We can’t follow the rules all the time. But we can always look at Jesus and be thankful.
Are you thankful?”
“You know what else?”
On goes the jacket, then the backpack straps hook over his small shoulders.
“The same power that raised Jesus from the dead has been given to us. That power gives us the ability to even want to follow God’s rules, and that power shows us how to follow the rules and gives us the strength to do it.
We never, ever need to try to follow God’s rules.
We just need to be thankful and then the strength comes straight from God, through us. The power comes when we are thankful and just stop trying so hard.
Got everything you need?”
“Yep! Bye, mom.”
“Bye, sweetie. Have a great Monday.”
“You too! Love you!”
The door slams shut and he’s off into the morning, still misty from last night’s rain. The week has begun anew.
It’s always new, I pray as I set the coffee down and watch Nikko stroll to the bus stop with his best friend, Thank you.
“But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:10-11
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from god and were enemies in you minds because of you your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sigh, without blemish and free from accusation.” Colossians 1:19-22
“It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus call out with a loud voice, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. When he had said this, be breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” Luke 23:44-47
This Monday morning, let’s begin the week with the challenge to stop trying and simply live thankful. It goes against the nature ingrained in us by our sinful ancestry. The whispered lie, hissed into Eve’s ear, leads us astray, too: Can we really trust God, take him at his word? Are we sure we’re not better off forging our own way, making our own decisions, trying, trying, trying.
It was grace that saved us, that picked us up and called us holy, children of God. Let’s let grace live in us, that charis of God, the sweet, active, involved and merciful grace of our creator, and relieve us from the tedious and defeating cycle of earning his favor. We are accepted because of the incredible sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We can live free from the burden of keeping the rules and happy in the gratitude that God declared us acceptable because we are covered, “hidden” Colossians 3:3, in Christ.
<—-Check out my friend, Jennifer Lee’s, website by clicking this image. She’s written a book about her journey toward finding wholeness and acceptance (and freedom from perfectionism and rule-following!) in Jesus. It’s called Love Idol.