My oldest grandson entered a new chapter of his life as he stepped on to the bus for his first day of kindergarten.
Ready to tackle the world and eager for the adventures that lay ahead, his first day in school included detail orientation to the various ways he and his classmates would move from room to room, how they would gain the attention of their teachers, how they would enjoy their own personal space while respecting that of their neighbors.
It was a day of learning the rules. These rules will no doubt govern and shape the experience he will come to know as “school.”
For many of us, the thought of “rules” carries a lot of baggage. Perhaps we remember the threats of pain or rejection that were promised should we be anything but obedient.
Even now, the call to obedience may seem like a risk of losing our independence and individually, so much so that we might want to resist conforming to being part of what seems like a system of control.
Much like my grandson is learning, when we trust that the call to obedience is an invitation to live in ways that are helpful, that are in our larger best interest, then complying is not something we resist, but something for which we strive.
The Bible makes no apology for calling us to obey the call of God. Scripture does not minimize the challenge and daily struggle to follow the model of Jesus the Christ.
Making decisions, living one’s life with the priorities of Jesus can even be painful at times. We risk losing much, seeing and treating others like Jesus did and would. Our lives might be turned upside down when we dare align our values with those shown to us in the life of Jesus.
But, it also seems the current values and priorities of our world are really not working that well for all but too few. A better way is needed, one that leads us all into sharing with, caring for and connecting with each other more deeply.
This is the source of life, of joy, of true peace. Jesus referred to this often as the “Reign of God” – a reign that was not far off or distant but one that could be experienced here and now, even accelerated into reality by obedience to the rules of God that bring life.
Such obedience promises life, full and abundant. May it be true for you and me!
Pete Berntson is the pastor of Church of the Palms United Methodist Church in Okatie