Are You A Rule Follower?

Jen’s Gem: Love one another.

When I finished Bible college earlier this year, my fellow classmates gave me a new Bible. It contains commentary from scholars, historical references, and even pictures. My “go-to” book is the Gospel of John, which I recently began re-reading.

John describes himself as the apostle “whom Jesus loved.” He would often be found with his head on Jesus’ shoulder or in today’s terms he might be described as being “Velcro-ed” to Jesus. I suspect John’s compadres grew quite weary of his continual reference as “teacher’s pet,” yet it was John who Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to after His death, so perhaps this title was accurate.

In addition to my Bible reading, I have a box of Scripture cards. I pull one out each morning and keep it close to serve as a reminder throughout my day. This is the one I got yesterday, September 11, 2021:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) A few minutes later, I opened my Bible to continue my study and read the same verse! I didn’t even know I was in Chapter 14! To say it stopped me in my tracks is an understatement. I thought – wow – this is something God really wants me to know and “get in my guts,” as I like to say.

Whenever Jesus wanted His followers to remember something, He said it twice. Whether it was your name (Martha, Martha) or to declare a truth (verily, verily I say to you), if He repeated Himself, it was time to pay attention and take His words to heart.

As you remember the tragic events of two decades ago, you may be fearful of another attack. With news of additional virus variants, you may be afraid of getting sick. Perhaps your company is changing its policies and you are at risk of losing your job. Maybe you’ve recently lost a loved one or sent your child off to college and your heart is grieving a loss.

Every day we have things in this world that will trouble our hearts and make us afraid. We may wish it weren’t so, but that’s the reality of it. God never promised us a rose garden. You may say, “Well, why not? If He loves us so much, why didn’t He give us an easy life down here? Why does life have to be so hard?”

I point you to the first pages of the Bible where Adam and Eve did in fact have that rose garden we all dream of. They had everything they needed to live fruitful and abundant lives. They had God in their midst every day. No sickness. No death. No job they hated. No financial challenges. It was heaven on earth and the way God designed all of us to live.

So what happened? In short – they blew it. God gave them one rule and they broke it. One rule but they couldn’t follow it. In that one action, they messed it up for the rest of us. Now, before you throw Adam and Eve under the bus, consider this: you and I break God’s rules every day.

“Well, I don’t steal and I haven’t kill anyone, Jen. I’m a good person.” I’m certain that you are. I’m a good person too. Yet I suspect like Adam and Eve, we struggle to follow the one rule Jesus gave us:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 NKJV)
Do we truly love one another? Doubtful. Just look at your social media feeds if you don’t believe me. Look at the hatred spewed out every day on TV. Look at the negativity and lack of compassion and understanding. Look at how the cashier is treated when a customer doesn’t get what they want. Look at the road rage on your daily commute.

Now I’m not condemning you or anyone else in any way, shape or form. I have to check myself every minute in these areas. I have to watch my words. I have to forgive people who’ve hurt me. I have to put myself in other’s shoes to avoid judging their behavior. I fail every day but thankfully I serve a God who oozes mercy, forgiveness, grace and love. As a believer in Jesus, I get to tap into His promises whenever I mess up, whenever I’m afraid and whenever my heart is troubled.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)

God knows I’m going to mess it up. He knows you’re going to mess it up. He’s not expecting perfection from imperfect beings. God was not surprised when Adam and Eve ate the fruit. He’s not surprised by our mistakes either. He knew we would need help to live here. That’s why He sent His Son to show us how. That’s why He gave us His Word, the Bible – our instruction manual for life.

Want to know God’s will? Want to know how God sees you? Want to hear from God? Want to know how to not let your hearts be troubled or afraid? Open your Bible. All of the answers to your questions are in there. All of them. Let me repeat that. All of them

September 11 was the most tragic day in our nation’s history. September 12 was the most joyous. Why? The whole world was united in love for one another. I believe God wept on 9/11 but I believe He rejoiced the next day. Twenty years later, I suspect He’s looking down at us saying the exact same thing He said to Adam and Eve:  

“One rule, my beloved children. One rule.”

Can we follow it?

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