Will you keep them [the general rules of our church]?
This question makes me chuckle. Remember back in elementary school when there were those kids that seemed to have the answer to the teacher’s question before he or she was even done asking it? As soon as the teacher started to speak their hand would shoot up in the air “ME! ME! I KNOW! PICK ME!” It was always sickening when they got the answer right.
It was always interesting, though, when they either actually got the answer wrong or the teacher had a follow up question…oh, follow up questions—how I loathe you! Their hand would slowly retract, their bright eyes would turn cold, and their gaze would shift to the floor. I call this phenomenon “checking your shoes”.
It’s like when the pastor says “Who in here loves Jesus and wants to serve Him?”
Everyone can get on board with that, they are eager to lift their hand and be counted.
Curveball follow-up question: “Good, who’s ready to chaperone the youth mission
Everyone suddenly needs to see if their shoes are tied.
This question—to me—is a bit of a “check your shoes” question.
“Do you know the general rules of our Church?”
“Yep! Sure do! I can recite most of them for you right now if you’d like, Bishop.”
“Will you keep them?”
“You know, you’ve got some lovely shoes on, Bishop.”
It’s one thing to know the general rules of the Church. It’s another thing entirely to keep them. I mean, there’s a lot contained in those broad categories of do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
I shudder to think how many times I’ve engaged evil in ways that do harm to my relationship with God, with others, and with myself. I shudder more to take stock of the ways and places where I’ve failed to do good. I shudder most when I realize that I have not always availed myself of the means of grace in ways that help me stay in love and grow deeper in love with God.
Yeah, I know the general rules of our church. I know the standards of Scripture upon which these rules were written. When it comes to keeping them….there have been some really good moments in there….but there have been some moments where I have been an absolute failure as a follower of Jesus Christ. My relationship with Him and with His Church and with the world for which He died has been a stumbling, bumbling mess.
But you know what? Even in writing that honest confession, I feel grace. I feel God saying “Yes, son, there have been times that you’ve made a mess of things. I forgive you. I am far from done with you.”
For me, the shuddering moments are a sign of a warmed heart, of one who is going on to perfection. If God wasn’t at work in my life, I wouldn’t care. But since God is at work and through the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit making me more holy each day…I can get up each day and work at these general rules all over again.
I don’t have to check my shoes. I am an imperfect follower of Jesus Christ. But by His grace, I am going on to perfection.
Do you know the General Rules of our Church? I do.
Will you keep them? I will so endeavor.