A while back while talking with some friends at church, we got on the topic of how sometimes God doesn’t lay out hard and fast rules in the Bible, sometimes He lays out guidelines and principles so that we’ll actually have to go to Him for clarification, and so that we can work with God in a relationship to personalize how we need to be living our lives in His will. Sometimes God wants something for me that He doesn’t have someone else pursuing. Sometimes someone else can’t handle something that I can, and sometimes I can’t handle something that they can. God has something in mind for each of us, so He not only wants us to follow instructions, He also wants us to have a relationship with Him.
One of the friends in this conversation, one who loves math and instructions, said that if God simply gave us instructions, he wouldn’t feel like he needed God. He’d simply take the instructions, thank God kindly, and say goodbye as he went off to follow the instructions. He knows that while instructions are there for a reason, you don’t use them in place of a relationship. He also knows how easy it is for him and plenty of other humans to just follow instructions without having to worry about anything else. That’s one of the reasons that legalism can so easily take hold.
On the other hand, some people disregard any kind of instruction, which does its own kind of harm. Sometimes they focus so much on not having to follow instructions to the letter that they still get the relationship part of it wrong. They go off doing their own thing and think that they’re still doing the right thing.
We need to remember that life is a balance. There are instructions that must be followed, and there is the flexibility of a relationship. There are hard and fast rules, and there are times when you work things out case by case. Instructions AND relationship are both important. When you think about it, they can actually be inseparable. Instructions from God and a relationship with God go hand in hand.