Following all the rules might make us feel safe. It might even make us feel more spiritual. But rules won’t keep us connected to God. In fact, too much focus on following all the rules may send us drifting away from Him.
I once believed God loved me but secretly held on to the belief that He would love me more if I could just get a few more things right in my life. I kept a mental checklist of all the rules I should follow if I wanted to secure my connection with Him. Here is just a sampling from that list:
- Attend church every Sunday.
- Quiet time every day.
- Weekly small group Bible study.
- Begin and end each day with prayer.
- Serve in a ministry at my church.
- Financially support a worldwide ministry that feeds the hungry, provides fresh water, or educates children.
- Listen to Christian music in my car, so I can worship while driving.
- Go on a mission trip.
- Send my kids to Christian camp.
I kept adding more and more items to my list each time I discovered a new way to be a “good Christian.” And I waited to feel God’s pleasure grow over me.
But as my list got longer, the only thing that grew was my fatigue at trying to do it all. I discovered that keeping all the rules doesn’t strengthen my relationship with God. Instead, living by the rules causes me to feel disconnected from Him. It sets me up for disappointment because I’m seeking God’s approval for my actions.
God doesn’t love us more when we do more.
Maybe you have a list like mine. And every item on it is an excellent way to demonstrate love and devotion to God and others. But not a single one will increase God’s pleasure over you or me. Because His love for us can’t be earned. It’s already full, abundant beyond measure, and entirely secure.
So don’t fall like I did for the lie that God loves you but would love you more if you were doing a better job at following the rules. Lay down your efforts to be more loveable and open your heart to the fullness of God’s immense delight in you.
This is the path to connecting with God. And something wonderful happens when we take it. He frees us to throw away our list of rules and to pay attention to the fire He ignites in each of us to worship, serve, and honor Him as He guides.
Not to earn His love, but to grow in it. And to share that love with others as an outpouring of thanks and praise for our Father God who freely gives His love – even when we don’t follow all the rules.
May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. (Ephesians 3:18 NLT)
Summertime is a great time to try this out. Schedules are lighter and you might have more flexibility to put away your day planner and follow your heart. Let me know where you find God delighting over you if you decide to break a few rules.