“If Christianity is dull and boring, if it is a burden and not a blessing, then most likely we are involved in a project not a Person – a system not a Savior, rules rather than a relationship.”
~ Joseph Stowell
Raise your hand if you’re a rule follower! Did my asking you to raise your hand actually cause you to raise your hand, even though no one was watching? Rules, deadlines, expectations—these are everything to me! They give me boundaries and standards I can follow. If I follow them, I benefit from the rewards: good grades, praise from teachers, praise from bosses, recognition in my work. They give me a sense of control; I have ALL the power.
When it comes to our relationship with Jesus, I grew up with this same mindset. As a teenager, I did what every good Christian did – I went on an overseas mission trip. This trip was rigid, with a lot of rules: wake up at 5 am to do your daily Quiet Time, take a shower, make your bed, tuck in your shirt, do your chores, the list goes on and on.
Ultimately, time with Jesus became:
- a burden, not a blessing,
- a project not a person,
- a system not a Savior,
- rules rather than a relationship.
But rules, habits, and discipline aren’t evil. I’ve learned that God can use them for good! Because on that same mission trip, I developed the discipline of a daily quiet time. When I arrived home, entering the scary world of high school, I kept this habit of spending time with Jesus. I woke up at 6 am (that was sleeping in!) and read my Bible before school every…single…morning. Sure, it started because I was following the “rule” of what I was obligated to do. Slowly but surely, however, something that was done out of obligation became a delight, a joy, and the biggest blessing in my life.
Isn’t that like our Savior? He doesn’t leave us where we are, but he draws us to his heart with loving-kindness and compassion. Through daily time in his Word, I realized:
- JESUS is the blessing
- JESUS is a person
- JESUS is my Savior
- JESUS is my delight.
- I can have a relationship with him.
Jesus does not leave us in our rule-following obligation. He is faithful to remind us that He is real. The same Savior that walked the earth so long ago is alive today! We can have a relationship with Him.
- He speaks to us through His Word.
- He calls us to closeness with him throughout the day.
- He reminds us of his love for us.
Has your relationship with Jesus ever felt dull and boring? Could it be that you’ve started doing all the right things, but your heart and mind have forgotten who He is? Take a minute to talk with Jesus in prayer right now. I bet you’ve said the Lord’s prayer so many times (because you’re supposed to or because it is part of the liturgy at church). What if you paraphrase this prayer in your own words or make it personal by inserting your own name? Try this version from The Passion Translation:
Pray like this:
‘Our Beloved Father dwelling in the heavenly realms,
may the glory of your name
be the center on which our lives turn
Manifest your kingdom realm
and cause your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth,
just as it is in heaven.
We acknowledge you as our Provider
of all we need each day.
Forgive us the wrongs we have done as we ourselves
release forgiveness to those who have wronged us.
Rescue us every time we face tribulation
and set us free from evil
For you are the King who rules
with power and glory forever. Amen.’
May we be reminded today of the joy and blessing of our relationship with Jesus. May our rules and obligations turn into our passion for our Savior.
~ from the Faithful Life Planner ~
Psalm 36:4 (TPT)
Find your delight and true pleasure in Yahweh, and he will give you what you desire the most.
Isaiah 29:13 (NIV)
The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Ps. 16:11 (NIV)
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
- What are the rules I follow, in my life and in my spiritual life?
- Can some of these rules lead to drudgery?
- Where can I find freedom to be with Jesus—to love him and to serve him from a place of joy?
Worship Jesus through adoration, music, art, color, dance, and praise. Enjoy Jesus!
Guest Author and FLC Team Member
Holly and her husband Rob have just moved back to her hometown in California, after living for 4 years in Germany. While there, she met people from all over the world. While she loved her travels, she is happy to be home, doing familiar things again like taking her son to soccer and her daughter to volleyball. Holly contributes to our monthly ScriptSub and has known Erika and Becky since their college days in Chicago. She is joining us for the next three weeks of devotionals.