If you’re in “back to school” mode, then you probably have a few rules on your mind. Maybe you’re thinking about the rigid school dress code or requirements for a certain research project you’ll have to complete this year. Or you’re dreading that one professor who’s a stickler for the “7:50 am” start time in a Monday morning class. Or you’re complaining to everyone who will listen about a stupid “No hamsters in the dorm” rule.
Even as a teacher (second graders), I complain about rules! I am dreading the first day of school when I have to lay out the rules. No one likes rules–I promise.
But, can you imagine what would happen if we didn’t have rules?
My second graders would throw rulers at each other and doodle pictures of Taylor Swift in their reading notebooks. Hamsters would eventually stink up your dorm room. And your high school teacher who makes you complete bibliographies perfectly down to every comma and period is only making you do that because your college professors will expect it (and they’re much scarier…trust me). Rules have a purpose..even if we don’t agree with or want to follow them.
When I was a junior in college, 20-years-old, I went to a party with some friends. Everyone was drinking…from freshmen to seniors. Except me. Yep–I was that weird kid who followed laws, even though I didn’t like them (especially since I had spent part of the summer in Europe where the drinking age was 18). As I stood against a wall sipping on a cup of Sprite, a guy I knew noticed me. We had met through a Christian organization on campus. He was a senior…of legal drinking age.
He approached with a reprimanding look, “You’re not 21, are you?”
I held my cup out for his inspection. “Sprite.”
He nodded with an approving look and walked away.
Did I change the world? No. Did I have a moment of clarity? Yes.
You see, in that moment, I realized that it’s not about the rules themselves. Instead, it’s about choosing to pursue God…and how that pursuit manifests in your life.
When it comes to following rules or laws that seem petty and annoying, it’s about submitting to authority because that is what our higher law dictates.
There is a beautiful sentiment regarding this a few books later:
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders, and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. -1 Thessalonians 4:11-12