Last week’s session on ‘Freedom’ was about growing up to independence – being able to choose to say ‘No!’
But this week’s is about not losing the best of our childhood. Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’. (Mark 10:15) For young children, life is just one big exiting game of exploration, and they love to play it with family and with friends. It’s always good to find more new playmates.
We tried jumping back into that world by making up a game. We started by creating a giant ‘snakes & ladders board’ and then saw where it took us – making up rules as we went along to make it more fun, more fair and more exciting.
After that, we had an iron man/woman challenge – loading up a crash mat and seeing how much weight each of us could drag. (No-one could pull more than two other people along.)
Do you sometimes feel tired with all the things you are supposed to do? Last week we began to think about escape from slavery. Do you ever feel like you are a slave to rules and requirements – other people’s or your own? We read three things Jesus said about following God’s rules:
- Yoke – Jesus’ ‘yoke’ (or teaching) is light and comfortable, not the heavy burden of rules that the Jewish religious leaders expected people to drag along with them (Matt 11:28-30).
- Spirit – living Jesus’ way means we live the spirit of the law, not just the letter. And that means we want to do more than rules would ever make us do. Jesus gave several examples in his ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (Matt 5: 17-48).
- Love – Jesus’ Spirit of love in us transforms the way we relate to God and to other people. This love is the fulfilling of all God’s law (Matt 22:35-40).
So are rules good? Yes, but only if we use them like children do – as a framework to help us as we explore and create, prompted by what the Spirit writes on our hearts. If we grow up too much and become grumpy, bossy adults who use rules to control and judge, then we’re on the way back to slavery.
Jesus has set us free from the slavery of rules by being the one who calls us to come and play, with him and with one another, the exciting game of exploring life together. His resurrection means he’s still leading the game – calling us every day .
Can I join in? Am I good enough? Or will I be excluded because I have I upset him or someone else in the game? Am I nursing a grudge or a fear because of something that went badly before? With Jesus, it’s always a fresh start and a big welcome to everyone to come and learn and succeed! – not forgetting to welcome all the other players too, and to forgive any who have ever hurt us.