In the old days, when I was a pastor, a big part of my job was giving people permission.
Not in the sense that I held the keys and made the rules. Not in the sense of making people raise their hands and ask permission.
More in the sense that people would describe what they thought the rules were, or had been taught that the rules were, and I could say, “God’s not making that rule.”
That doesn’t mean God’s not pretty clear about some things: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Teach people how to obey everything Jesus commanded which is, Love God. Love your neighbor.
And that doesn’t mean that what God means by love is the same as what I mean by love, as in, “If God really loved me, he’d let me tell him what to do. And if he doesn’t do it, he doesn’t love me so I won’t love him.”
But I believe that I’m on pretty safe ground by giving people permission to eat supper with a neighbor instead of making the neighbor come to church.
I[ started to make up more examples, but I realized that I need to get to my point.]
Jesus told the people who were struggling with the burden of making God happy by keeping religiously developed rules to stop struggling. And to come to him. And he, Jesus, would give us rest.
The permission to abandon rule-keeping as a way to God, is a big gift.
It’s the gift that comes when we say, “God, I’ve been trying so hard to make you happy, to figure out what you want. And I worked and worked on a father’s day present to tell you that I love you. But it came out all wrong.”
And Jesus says, “Oh, kid. Come here. Sit here. With us.”
First published a few years ago.