Not all rules are oppressive. Not all rules stymie relationship. Some rules set correct standards by which we govern our lives and environments. Some rules set parameters by which we operate in our lives. Some rules keep us and others safe.
Are speed limits oppressive? They are to those who do not take into consideration the well-being of others on the road.
When you read that question did you automatically think of speeders? On interstate highways there is a “set” minimum speed limit as well as a maximum speed limit.
Those who drive too slow are as much a danger to others as those who drive too fast!
Paul the apostle wrote the following to the believers in Jesus Christ that lived in Galatia, which was in Asia Minor.
Galatians 6:15-16 ~ “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”
In this text Paul states that God’s peace and mercy are on those who [by an act of their own free] will [choose to] walk by a specific rule. What is the rule that rules? The new creation is superior to everything based in the natural, physical, outward world.
Is God trying to stymie relationship with people?
God is setting a proper context in which people can be in proper relationship to Him.
Relationship with God is confined to a group of people classified as “a new creation.” In 2 Cor 5:17 Paul tells us who the new creation are – “anyone in Christ Jesus.”
The Israel of God is the new creation which is everyone who is in Christ Jesus. That is the rule God set and we must live by it in order to be in relationship with God.
Look at what Paul says in verses 12 & 16 of 2 Corinthians 5 ~ “12 We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in [their outward] appearance and not in [the transformation of the] heart. 16 Therefore, from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh [outward appearances]; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh [His humanity], yet now we know Him in this way no longer.”
For the sake of keeping the peace with people who may not understand all that these verses are conveying, I will keep my comments to this one truth ~ We are not to view Jesus, or anyone else by their ethnicity or gender.
Since that is true then how do we recognize [know] people? By discovering whether or not they are “in Christ”. We are to relate to people based upon spiritual dynamics instead of physical dynamics. The Israel of God today are spirit beings in human bodies.
Born again believers in Jesus Christ [Christians] are not human beings that are having spiritual encounters. We are now spiritual beings that have human encounters. In other words we have been spiritualized, but our spiritualation is to effect the natural world [including our human body] in positive ways.
Our born again spirit is to rule our human body and mind. Our born again spirit, not our human appetites, is to determine how we live. Our spirit hungers for the things of the Holy Spirit, which has His origins in the eternal God, Who is Spirit. God’s realm is spiritual and the natural world is longing and even groaning for the realm of the Spirit to take over [Romans 8:18-25].
The world of the Spirit is the superior and eternal realm. It is this world [realm] that is “above”. “Above” is a dimension not a geographical location. The Kingdom of heaven is within all believers. Heaven is not six gazillion light years somewhere in outer space. Jesus said it is within reach.
We are to bring that world into this world so that God’s rule will prevail and transformation will take place on earth, the natural realm.
Those who do not like rules may have misunderstood the importance of certain rules. Or maybe they do not want to be responsible. Maybe they do not care how their irresponsibility is endangering [negatively affecting] their environment.
People who do not want to be responsible do not want others to hold them accountable. These people hide behind the false accusation that they are being oppressed. What this really means is “I do not value my environment and your presence in it, so I am not going to abide by your rules.”
Jails and prisons are full of irresponsible people. Keeping the rules can keep us in the game [environment of freedom]. Personal freedoms are not without rules, but they are without oppression.
Paul said that he lived in freedom but he did not use his freedom to break God’s rules. He operated within the framework of the established rules in order to be found faithful and to finish his race. Otherwise he said that he could be disqualified.
[1 Corinthians 9:27; Galatians 5:13; 2 Timothy 2:5]
For HIS Glory!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury