Chaplain John Oas

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Chaplain John Oas

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FAQ#7: Doesn't becoming a Christian mean adopting a bunch of rules that limit a person's freedom (and fun)?

Hey, singing songs and attending potluck suppers can be pretty exciting stuff, pal. And you get used to the polyester eventually.

Actually, Christianity is not a system of rules--it is a relationship with the God who created us and loves us. Christ said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). He talked about bringing people freedom and liberty, not enslaving them to guilt and rules.

Yet many people do associate Christianity with, well, guilt and rules. And, we must confess, not entirely without reason. Living as a follower of Christ does mean adopting some moral and ethical standards, the most important of which is to treat others with love and not just look out for our own interests. Ephesians 5:1-2 says:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

That is a good summary of Christian ethics--because God has loved, forgiven, and accepted us, we are then called to treat others with the same love and mercy. This means, for example, that we should choose to use our sexuality as an expression of lifelong love and commitment, rather than as a vehicle for personal pleasure. It means that we should work hard and be honest rather than try to get ahead by trampling on the rights of others. It means that we should remain humble in the face of human frailty, whether our own or someone else's.

Of course, it doesn't always work that way. Human nature being what it is, we find it far easier to blindly keep rules than to truly live a life of love. Christians sometimes turn love into legalism and freedom into bondage. We do what is right for the wrong reasons--in order to feel better about ourselves or find acceptance with God. And when we do that, we miss out on the joy and liberty that Christ wants to give us.

So, yes, there are some "rules," but they emerge from an understanding of God and his grace, not an attempt to pacify him. They are there to keep us from hurting ourselves and others, not to limit us or spoil our fun. In reality, walking with God is the surest way to increase our freedom. Not our freedom to act as we please and gratify all our desires (which is actually a form of slavery), but rather our freedom to move beyond fear and selfishness to become all that God created us to be. You have to admit, that's a pretty good trade-off.

Are you ready to to be free?
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