One of the sticking points for the starting point of what many people believe (really it can be a sticking point anywhere along the path of what people believe) is the role of rules. At some level, most people know that rules exist everywhere. And at some level, most people know that rules serve well in bringing at least a sense of order to things.
Still, there are hang-ups in relationship to rules. Sometimes rules get over-used or misused and become legalistic and judgmental. Sometimes rules get ignored and a chaos ensues. Sometimes the biggest problem people have with the rules is that they are not the rule-maker. Not being the rule-maker means someone else is telling us what to do – and people in general tend to push back against someone else telling them what to do.
These assumptions and perceptions about rules are often taken and placed on God and relationship with God – which leaves many people pushing back against God and relationship with him. With God as the rule-maker, there is a very interesting dynamic at play, which was explored in part 4 (Rules Roles) of CCC’s Starting Point series. With God as the rule-maker, relationship always precedes rules.
Check out this dynamic in Exodus 20:1-3 and then consider the following questions about how to hit reset on the starting point of what you believe.
- Would you say you have a love, hate, or love-hate relationship with rules? Why?
- What do you think of when you think about rules and God?
- Do you believe the Ten Commandments were given by God? Why or why not?
- What purpose do you believe the Ten Commandments serve?
- Why do you think God communicated “I am the Lord your God” to the Israelites? How do you think that indicates God started with relationship before rules?
- Why do you think God reminded Israel it was him who brought them out of Egypt? What had Israel done for God?
- What does it mean to have no other gods before God?
- What types of things do people tend to make “gods before God”?
- How do you think you would have responded to this “rule” if you were at Mount Sinai?
- How does it impact you that relationship with God precedes the rules?
- What role does trust play in relationships? In relationship with God? In what ways does God ask people to trust him?
- What next steps will you take to trust God that relationship precedes rules?
God went to great lengths for relationship to preceded rules for Israel (and for all people throughout history). Even in making the rules, what God asks is for people to trust him. About 1500 years after God gave the Ten Commandments, Jesus showed up to once again show the lengths God is willing to go to for relationship. And once again, what he asks of people is for them to trust him. So what do you do with that?