Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Follow the rules

Those closest to me have noticed a dark and disturbing trend over the past few years. I don't know how it happened, how it snuck up on me and captured my soul. But it has happened.

I have become a rule follower.

I wasn't always. Freedom rang through my life as if William Wallace himself was screaming in my head. I was a notorious rebel, determined to break the rules placed on me.

But no longer. I finally came to grips with it this morning when, for the umpteenth time, I saw another parent dropping their child off at school without following the school's well-posted rules for safety. It's as if we think that the rules don't apply to us if we're in a hurry. And as I glared steely eyes at the other dad who was, it looked to me, dressed for a tee time (while tee times are extremely important, probably not worth endangering elementary children for), it hit me.

I have become a rule follower.

So in the few minute drive back to the house, I pondered what had changed me so deeply. And as I did, I began to realize I've not changed so much as I think I have. The problem is not that I'm any less rebellious than 15 or 20 years ago. The problem is that I think fewer rules are stupid than I did 15 or 20 years ago. You see, even in my highest rebellious phase, I was rebelling against what I perceived to be the idiocy of certain regulations. Many people in authority make rules to govern the least common denominator. Anyone who tries to control a group of people (coaches, teachers, pastors, etc.) makes a rule because a handful of people in the group need those rules. It keeps the group in line. It defines truth as black and white, alleviating (albeit temporarily) the mystery. But, having usually seen myself as more enlightened than the rest of the group, I pretty much always thought those rules weren't very smart for me.

Educational math was like this for me. Teachers always wanted me to "show my work." Made me list out my postulates and theories in geometry. Show my line by line work in long division. When I could do it all in my head and save me the time and energy of writing it out, why?

Most of my strongest rebellion was (and still is) pointed at religious regulations. And more specifically, the religious regulations that allow American Christians to look good on the outside, but be dead bones on the inside, and still be seen as "good" evangelicals. But the truth is, we as individuals and we the collect system of society have been tainted by sin, and against that sin we need to struggle. We need to fight. We need to declare our freedom. Often for USAmerican evangelicals, the pattern of sin in us in not the desire to do evil. It is the belief that in doing a little good we become good people. As Screwtape attested, that may be the greatest victory of our enemy.

In these, may we all be rebels.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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