Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. Philippians 3:17
Francis Schaffer once wrote about two different types of Christ followers: those who define their faith by inflexible rules and those who believe that rules and faith should have no relationship at all. According to Schaffer, those people who fall to one extreme or the other are both right and wrong at the same time.
God did not intend for life to be dictated solely by a constricting set of rules. This kind of existence would cause us to live with constant guilt and shame. There would be no way that we could follow every rule. After all, God knows that we are human—we are not perfect. But by the same token, we cannot go through life abiding by whatever rules we choose and then claim to be full-court followers of Christ.
If we live too freely, then we use a creative license that makes us undistinguishable from non-believers. If, by your actions, you are telling a non-believer, “There’s no difference between me and you,” then what will attract them to Christ?
And if we fall to the other extreme and live strictly by the rules, never thinking for ourselves, then we only focus on one aspect of the Christian life. If you are living in a way that says, “There is no joy in being a Christian at all. It’s all about rules and guilt,” then you have missed the point as well.
Christ’s intent for our lives was somewhere in between these two extremes. God grants us the opportunity to use our free will. But at the same time, his command is for us to apply his rules to our lives. If we do this, if we submit to God’s word and let it guide our lives, then we will find ourselves living under amazing freedom.
Think of how your actions are viewed by the world around you. If what you do is going to cause someone to have a distorted view of Christ, then it is not worth doing. Your life should be about balance—a balance between your free will and God’s will. The only way that you will find that balance is through a personal relationship with Christ. Remember that God does not want the joy of life to be a mystery. He wants us to experience all that we can right here, right now. So, give yourself to him and follow his pattern. Allow him to guide you into true freedom.
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