Breaking The Rules

Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God’s own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us. – Richard Rohr; Falling Upward, A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

nofishingjpg I recently published my second book. “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Get’s Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough”.

For too long living a spiritual life, in submission to a religious system has been fraught with rules. “Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign” to quote the Five Man Electrical Band.

When living a spiritual life there are two types of rules. There are the rules that God himself has established and written down, things like the 10 Commandments and the teachings of Jesus. And there are the rules that religious institutions have created in order to “help” us better understand various version of god. Too often, although we are clearly taught that God made mankind in His image, religious institutions have in turn remade their own god in their own image.

The fact of the matter is that the only rules that matter are God’s; man’s rules aren’t worth spit when it comes to the will of the one who made us. When God breaks his own rules, as he has done over and over again throughout history and scripture it must therefore point to a greater truth. Not that the rules don’t matter, they do, they have a purpose. But in a lot of cases the rules have served their purpose and no longer apply, in other cases they may still have a purpose for day to day living but they can be, and often are, superseded by something else.

Life is messy and the rules, far from having no meaning, just aren’t enough when it comes to understanding the will of God.

What is the will of God? Well that’s complicated but it begins and ends with one fact, God is Love [1 John 4:16] and sometimes love needs to break the rules.

The following exert from Meekoethics talks about the love of God manifest in the actions of a few historical figures and martyrs for the faith. Life is messy and sometimes it leads us to do things that are counter-intuitive for the cause of love.

God IS Love! Full stop…

There is no malice in Him. There is no vengeance and no violence of any kind. God created mankind in his own image. We are all infinitely valuable image bearers of the divine. Therefore the only opinion we are allowed to have of our fellow human beings is that they too are worthy of just as much love and respect as we are.

What does enemy love look like?

It looks like Henry Dunant. After witnessing the Battle of Solferino in 1859, in which more than 40,000 wounded soldiers on both sides were abandoned and left to die alone on the battlefield, he closed his business and founded the International Red Cross to care for those wounded in war, regardless of nationality or participation in combat.

Today, the International Foundation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is one of the world’s most recognized and respected independent humanitarian aid agencies. It has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize three times and carries on operations in warzones throughout the world through the work of local chapters in over 140 countries.

Enemy love looks like Ron Sider who in 1984 issued a challenge to all Christ-followers:

“Unless we . . . are ready to start to die by the thousands in dramatic vigorous new exploits for peace and justice, we should sadly confess that we never really meant what we said, and we dare never whisper another word about pacifism to our sisters and brothers in those desperate lands filled with injustice. Unless we are ready to die developing new nonviolent attempts to reduce conflict, we should confess that we never really meant that the cross was an alternative to the sword . . .”

That speech, given by Mr. Sider on a summer day in the south of France sparked a non-violent movement for peace and justice the world over. Today Christian Peacemaker teams are deployed in six regions of racial violence and oppression throughout the world including Iraq, Palestine and North American Aboriginal Communities.   They carry no weapons and seek simply to “get in the way” of violence. They stand with the oppressed and the oppressor and force the issue by refusing to ignore the divine image in everyone. They have faced hardship for the cause, many have been arrested and some of their people have died in the service of enemy love.

But perhaps the most shining example of enemy love ever recorded was that of Dirk Willems.

In the early spring of 1569 Willems was arrested by the authorities for the crime of being an Anabaptist, a radical church reformer who believed, among other things, in adult baptism and pacifism. Willems was sentenced to die but he escaped prison and ran across a frozen moat. One of the prison guards noticed him running away and gave chase. The guard was a heavier man, carrying a heavy sword and wearing heavy winter clothing. He fell through the ice. When Willems noticed that the man chasing him was about to drown, he turned back and helped him out of the ice cold water. He was promptly re-arrested and, despite this act of compassion for his enemy, Dirk Willems was burned at the stake as a heretic on May 16, 1569.

All three of these examples are stories about counter-intuitive, counter-cultural expressions of love and the will of God. They are examples of what tends to happen when truly engaged Christ-followers discover that life is messy and the rules aren’t enough.

For more information on my latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Get’s Messy and The Rules Aren’t Enough?” visit or write to

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