Rules and love

I really understood the term “born again”. I honestly felt brand new. I was more alive than I had ever been. I knew for certain Jesus had set me free. My church taught all of the things one would expect a church to teach. And at 19 I learned very quickly what I was not supposed to do. I was cautious to not drink, smoke, swear, listen to secular music. Most other Christians agreed with most of the “rules” I followed. But not the music thing. Or how I didn’t watch most movies or TV shows. But I didn’t care, I was going to follow the rules…because I loved Jesus and I wanted Him to always love me too. I had to get it right. Years later I loosened the rules a little and listened to more music, watched more shows. But still found myself guarding my eyes and ears. Somehow I thought God’s love was tied to my behavior. It’s not. In case you are wondering, His love is unconditional. Consequences are still a thing, but His love is always there.

I just got back from a road trip where I listened to all Christian music and several teachings from different Pastors. In the car we played a game where we tried to name the top 10 artists in various music genres. I quickly realized I couldn’t even play, much less win. This got me thinking…was I still legalistic and rigid like I was when I was young? I spent a decent amount of time considering my life. When I was younger I would have judged you based on my rules. I would have assumed it meant you were not a Christ follower. But that assumption would have been wrong, in so many ways. I no longer hold people to my rules. I know you may not be tripped up by the same things as me. You may not require the same guardrails.

Some may argue that I’m out of touch because I don’t know what the top songs are, or what movies are winning awards this year, but I’m okay with that. I started to contemplate why I choose to listen to what I do. Honestly, sometimes I feel weird about it. But I realized the reason I make these choices. I know that in order to fulfill God’s plan for my life I need to hear Him loud and clear. I need faith. Real, active, effective faith. The Bible says faith comes by hearing. What do I want my faith to be in? I want my faith to be in God. So I need to hear His words.

From the time I was a child I retained song lyrics. My brain may not recall your name, but it will surely bring up every single word to Cold Hearted Snake by Paula Abdul. I need to Hear HIS words. So I listen to songs that contain them. I need to fill my mind with thoughts that are good, because I want….I need the peace of God in me. So, I am cautious of what I allow my eyes to see. I want my life to be more than what I indulge in. I want it to be a vessel. I want it to be a bridge to the One who loves.

So, yeah, I’m okay with people thinking I’m a little strange. I’m okay with being the only one who doesn’t know who is nominated this year. I’m choosing to run after His plan and purpose for my life. I am choosing to fill myself accordingly. My guardrails may not be the same as yours. Strength comes in knowing what they need to be and having the will to put them up.

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