Have you ever thought about the balance between law and grace? If you are not familiar with the term law then perhaps rules and grace might be easier. For many years there has been a sort of constant discussion about where a Christian should live in regards to rules and grace. The discussion goes sort of like this.
A person that believes that there are things that a person must do in order to be a Christian would fall into the rules camp. In practice this person would have things that usually have to do with their outward behavior and appearance that they feel are necessary components to their Christianity.
A person that believes that there is nothing they have to do other than truly believe in Jesus would fall into the grace camp. This person almost never has anything external that they feel is necessary for their Christianity to be genuine.
My question is where is the proper balance? Are there things that a Christian cannot do or must do? If grace is all reaching then can a Christian do anything and still go to heaven? In Rob Bells book “Love Wins” he suggests that because of the magnitude of God’s love and grace almost no one or perhaps even no one goes to hell. Which position is the proper one?
I would like to suggest that indeed there are things that a Christian cannot have as a part of their life and that there are things that must be a part of a genuine Christian’s life. However, it is not rules that govern what those things are and how they are expressed. Rather it is grace.
To me love and grace are much greater long-term motivators than is fear. Rules and law are all about fear. Primarily fear of being caught. As a child I always behaved better when my father was around. Why? I feared the punishment that he gave more than the punishment of my mother. Moreover, when both were absent the fear was gone and so was my good behavior. Much more constraining upon my behavior was the love that I learned for my adoptive parents (my aunt and uncle) later in my life. They disciplined me but that discipline came only as needed and was very infrequent when compared to the constant love that they demonstrated. Ultimately I was much more concerned about disappointing people who loved me so greatly than I was concerned about the potential punishment.
It’s the same in my relationship with my heavenly father. Do I fear his punishment? Yes, but not nearly as much as I desire to please and bless him in response to the kindness shown to me by his forgiveness and the love demonstrated by his constant care. It is grace that produces good behavior and prevents bad behavior. It is his love that causes me to guard my mind and my ears and my eyes. As long as I am truly motivated by his love I need never fear his discipline and even in the absence of his physical presence I am still motivated to live and act like a Christian.
Grace always requires more than law. Fall deeper in love with Jesus today and rules become unnecessary.