I don’t know about you, but for me, the first week of school brings lots of emotions. Seeing the kids heading back triggers tons of memories . . . and oddly enough, most of them are good.
I remember things like parties and field trips; war ball in the gym and free play on the playground. I remember funny things that happened in middle school and high school, and the more I think about them, the better they seem in my memory – as if there is this golden glow around them. Those were the days!
We’re all like that, aren’t we? We love to reminisce about the “good ‘ole days” when life was happier and decisions were simpler. The bad memories fade and the good ones become enshrined in our memories. There is something in us that longs to go backwards.
But let me ask you a question? If you could, would you really go back? Would you trade the freedom of adulthood for the carefree life you had as a child?
I’ve been thinking about that this week. As the kids laced up their brand new school shoes and put fresh school supplies in their unblemished book bags, I pondered the question. Would I go back to the “good ‘ole days”.
The answer is NO. In fact, NO is not strong enough. The answer is HECK NO.
Look, adulthood is tough. I won’t deny it. It’s tough in a way we couldn’t fathom when we were kids. Bills and schedules and bills and family responsibilities and bills and home maintenance and more bills . . . they wear on the best of us. Add to those things the uncertainty and indecision that comes with adulthood, and it’s easy to see why so many people wish they could return to the days when someone else took care of everything. When someone made our decisions for us and directed our steps.
But is that a good thing? It didn’t seem like a good thing when we were kids! Do you remember how excited you were when you were finally old enough to stay home alone; or drive a car; or go out on a date without a chaperone, or move away to college? You were ready to grow up . . .
The Good Old Days of . . . The Law?
So why am I saying all of this? Here’s why – because lots of Christians approach God with the same attitude I just described. You see, in the Old Testament, God gave the people The Law, and it served as a sort of guardian nanny for them. It told exactly what they should do and what they shouldn’t do and how they should approach God.
But when Jesus came and fulfilled the law, He gave the people an opportunity that they had never had – the opportunity to GROW UP. Now, instead of being governed by the law, Christ-followers were able to enter a mature RELATIONSHIP with God. That’s because Jesus’ righteousness covered Believers, which gave them access to God that they had never enjoyed. Through Christ, people were suddenly unburdened from the chains of The Law, which allowed them to live free, even as they submitted in obedience to Him.
(To understand this more fully, read the first seven verses of Galatians 4)
Now, get this – despite having been set free from the governance of The Law, and despite having been given the gift of a mature RELATIONSHIP with God, many people still long to return to the “good ‘old days.” They prefer the guardianship of the Law. After all, there is safety in approaching God by a series of rules and regulations. You know exactly what you have to do, and exactly how He will respond if you do it. As a result, people often use their “good words” and their “obedience” to The Law as a way to try to control God . . . and to simplify life.
But God has set us free from all of that. He calls us to grow up and enter into a grown-up relationship with Him. That means building faith, which requires us to trust Him even when we can’t see what lies ahead. He calls on us to remember His faithfulness in the past, and to trust Him as we move forward. He calls us to resist the urge to turn around and run back where it seems safe and move forward with Him in faith.
Avoid the temptation to turn back. Avoid the temptation to cling to rules and regulations as a means of knowing God. Yes, we are called to be obedient to Him, but our obedience flows out of our relationship with Him. That is a relationship that the Law never afforded.