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  • James Pate

The Rule Book that isn't

It's funny how childhood memories come back. I think I was five or six. I went into our local park. Just past the entrance I saw a sign that said 'bye-laws.'

So I went over to read the rather long list of rules and regulations. My dad called to ask what I was doing. If my memory is right, I told him I wanted to know the rules so I could keep them. He told me that nobody reads the rules. Well, I did. Or at least I tried until I was interrupted.

Rules are funny things. It seemed to be the unbreakable law of Primary School that any craze would end up being banned. There was one place we were told we must never go at lunchtime; I've no idea what was so bad about this place and it is too late to ask now. I did go there for several children's parties.

At secondary school it got more complicated. The rule was that we should not walk home through the local park, which seemed a bit weird because those who went home on a bus had to go into the park. I gave into peer pressure and walked home through the park. Nothing happened.

The Bible isn't a rule book. If you look for rules you will find them. But it is not a rule book. It's a story with a leading character who got into trouble because people thought that he broke the rules. He told us that the law is about doing to others what we want them to do for us, and it's about loving your neighbour as yourself. This man, Jesus of Nazareth, read the rule book as if love was the whole point. His follower, the Apostle Paul, would later say that if we are led by the Spirit we are not under Law.

My dad said that the rules were common sense and there was no need to read them. Maybe they were. I only read the first few lines.

Yours in the grace of Jesus


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