It is always important to know the rules in anything we do. We have rules at school, rules at work and rules at home. We establish laws to govern traffic: speed limits, stop signs, turn lanes and signals. We pass laws for family, marriage, commerce and civil conduct. We spend billions of dollars to employ law enforcement officials, judges and lawyers to make sure the rules are obeyed.
Some rules are unwritten. We assume we know them from birth. They are common to every culture on earth. They are simple rules: love your family and your friends. Do good things for them. Love your country. If someone hits you, hit them back. Don’t break in line. Lend only to those who will pay you back with interest. Look out for “number one.” Protect your property. Defend yourself. If someone wrongs you, get even. Sometimes we follow these rules even when they conflict with the law. They are the stuff of most movies and novels. They are the rules by which we live our lives.
We even have rules for play. Every sport has its rules with umpires and referees to insure that the rules are enforced. We have added instant replay to make sure their rulings are fair and objective. Still, arguments erupt and tempers flare when either side believes it has been unfairly judged. New Orleans fans are still miffed about the pass interference no-call last January. And, the NFL has changed the rules. For the first time, following the Saints play-off fiasco, coaches can challenge a pass interference play.
When Jesus came, he changed all the rules. His words sound strange when compared to our natural assumptions about how life is supposed to work. “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:27-36).
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. For more information visit www.tinsleycenter.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.