What makes a good Christian or bad Christian? Somehow we have turned the law, meant to bring us closer to God, into a rule book that drives us further away. Dr. Gary Stratton points out that when God gave His law to Moses, it was never about following a rule book in order to be a good Christian.

Paul says the law is the schoolmaster. It’s designed to bring us into relationship with God. As a matter of fact, the fascinating thing is how to some degree, there’s a misinterpretation of the book of Exodus. The center of the book of Exodus isn’t really the giving of the law so much as the giving of the tabernacle. That’s what takes up most of the real estate.”

The law is all about living people in the living presence of God. The whole point is to come into God’s presence. The whole point of the New Testament is to be in dwelt by the spirit of God, not that we’re going to heaven but that Heaven is coming to us. It’s so easy to get caught up in this ‘Oh it’s just about keeping the rules to keep God from being mad at me.”

The law was given so that we may lead holy lives and become more attuned to God’s presence and will, in order to further understand who He is.

“There was a real life changing thing for me when I realized the truth of what John says, that, ‘We love because He first loved us.’ There’s a need to encounter God’s love at a deeper and deeper level.”

“He wants to develop a set of disciplines that help us stay in contact with more and more of our conscious awareness and more and more, over the course of the day, with the sense of His infinite love for us, that’s been released in the sacrifice of Christ.”

If we as Christians view the law as necessary in order to earn God’s favor, we will always fall short, because we can never achieve perfection. The law is in place so that we may know God, and understand Him further – not as a balance beam in which we are sure to fall from.

Following God – more than following the rules

Dr. Gary Stratton is Dean and Professor of Worldview and Spiritual Formation at Johnson University.

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