Today I was running a youth session at my Church and one of the youth said something really really interesting.
"People talk about Christianity and the freedom it brings, but it's actually loads of rules to follow and is really hard"
It struck me that if that is what Christian's inside the Church might think, then I wonder how many people who are outside the Church think that too. I know historically the Church has sometimes been known for being legalistic and judgmental - keep to the rules or else; but I wonder how many people hold to that view of Church and Christians today.
I wonder because I totally don't agree.
We ended up having a little discussion about it and it came back to these verses:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
A lot of the time (and I do this too) we can think of all the laws/rules in the Bible, like the 10 Commandments and all the laws in Leviticus, and think "flip Christianity is not about freedom". But when it comes down to it Jesus has told us that we have 2 rules to live by - Love God and love others.
Everything else comes out of those 2. It's like having a different perspective of the same thing. I'm not going to go and steal my neighbour's dog, not because I know I shouldn't, but because God has told me to love others and it wouldn't be loving to steal their dog.
When we truly get our heads around loving God and loving others it impacts all other parts of our lives. But it's not a chore. It's not like "oh I'm trying so hard not to gossip about that person because I know I shouldn't", it's more that you love them and so why would you gossip about them.
Clearly this is a journey - I do not perfectly love God or other people, and neither will you. But if we are genuinely seeking to be obedient and keep these two commandments we may well find it becomes less about rule keeping and more about loving more.