This might surprise you, but there is more than one way to eat a pie. I know, because this is what the current pie I am eating looks like:
Why? Because it was my birthday yesterday and my dear friend Christine brings me a freshly baked (by her own hands) pie each year on this one day. The pie comes with strict instructions: “DO NOT SHARE.” Which gives me great freedom to dig that fork in any which way I want. I can just have a bite (ha!) or I can have a third of the creation all at once.
In my pursuit of slowing down and being grateful, this is finding extra meaning for me this year. I am savoring the bites, and even flaunting them a bit in front of my children, who don’t really like apple pie (fortunately). I am grateful, and I am living in the moment of the sugar and crust and delicious filling.
It’s nice having freedom for once to not conform to the “rules of the pie”–eight symmetrical slices to be shared and eaten politely on a plate.
It’s interesting that the rule my friend gave me actually gave me freedom.
Have you ever thought about that with the Christian life?
Too often we don’t see rules as leading to freedom, instead we see them as necessary evils that we either fight against or embrace legalistically:
“We shouldn’t wear this, we need to say that, we certainly don’t do those things, did you see what that person did?” We tend to make it sound all judgy, with shouldn’ts and should haves. We heap expectations on others, while often ignoring our own misfires.
But God’s real plan for us is freedom. How do we reconcile both?
Here are some thoughts:
God knew in his wisdom that some ways of doing life are better than others. That is the key to understanding Jesus, and his tangible effort to connect us with his Father, followed by his death on the cross paying for our sin. We have no laws anymore, no sacrifices to redeem us enough to be in God’s presence once again. It is done. We are connected through repentance and faith and belief. We have freedom.
We also have choices to make every day, some good, some bad. Our freedom to choose can sometimes be the very thing that imprisons us. Adultery, murder (literally imprisons), dishonesty, gluttony, envy, idolatry, just to name a few.
Back to the pie… what if I always ate a pie set before me this crazy, one-forked big-holed way? What if I dug in to a delicious warm apple round at a party with my prongs, carving out the middle, going back in several times to get the best bites in front of a group of wide eyes. Um, yuck. My party days would be over.
God knows that some ways to live our life (eat our pie) are better than others, which is why in His Word he gives us instructions, guidelines, even commandments. He knows that some “free” decisions in life lead to heartbreak, pain, suffering.
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.” 1 Peter 2:1.
Throughout the bible, God speaks of obedience and righteousness, and He also speaks of hope and grace and a future.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you , who through faith are shielded by God’s power…” 1 Peter 1: 3-5
God has an inheritance for us, a living hope and a new birth. He is not all about rules, there is so much more!
Yet he knows that if we tank our life in sin, we get buried in the heap of mess, guilt, regret, and shame. There is no freedom in that.
Which is why there is freedom in the word of God, with all its wisdom and guidelines.
We are to live a life of passion and love because of the great love God has for us, his children. At the same time, let’s pursue righteousness–let’s serve and obey God because we want to out of our love for Him, and because we trust him with our best life.
This is the balancing act of the Christian life.