There is something appealing about the words "don't," and "no." Though intended to announce a restriction, to our human nature they frequently become an invitation. This phenomenon is not new; we've seen examples since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve could have enjoyed all of the fruit of the garden if they had only avoided one forbidden tree. The temptation, however, was too much: "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it." Together they choose to disobey God. The tragedy is that the rules are there to help us enjoy life. It is when we disregard the rules that we tend get ourselves in trouble.
British evangelist, Nikki Gumble, tells of a time when he arrived to watch one of his son's soccer matches and found that the referee had not arrived. Eager to start the game, Nikki was "recruited" to serve as the referee. The only problem was that Nikki did not know all of the rules. Quickly, he said, the game deteriorated into chaos: players, coaches, and parents were arguing. One child got hurt. He was so relieved when the "professional" referee finally arrived, blew the whistle, and got the game on track. Outside of the proper rules, he said, no one was having any fun. When the rules were finally applied the game became enjoyable.
At times children and adults alike scoff at rules. "Why do there have to be so many rules?" we ask. But of this we can be assured: the rules and boundaries that God sets for us are for our own good. It is by following the rules that we can best enjoy fellowship with God and with one another; and intimate fellowship is what God intended for us from the start.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.