I have yet to find someone in life that likes rules. Generally, if I find someone who claims that they like rules, I can always push them hard enough to find that there are some rules that they don't like. There are some people who claim that rules were meant to be broken, the rebels among us who like nothing more than to buck the system and break as many rules as possible. Others just love rules, they love the order that they bring to the chaos of their lives. They love to have structure and routine.
Still, there are others who like to push right up against the rules, tiptoe along the edge of breaking them, and then begin pointing out the technicalities of the rule system to specify that they haven't indeed broken any rules, they've just "expanded the strike zone," so to speak.
It's hard to classify myself in a category in regards to rules. I probably fit with the large majority of the population that says that there are certain rules that are just plain dumb, they don't make sense. I honestly believe that rules are meant for protection, they're meant to provide some order and structure to life. Without rules and systems, life would have the potential of turning into utter chaos.
The key to rules is determining exactly why they are in place. Most teenagers believe that rules are put into place simply to make their lives more miserable. They think that there is a conspiracy instigated by their parents and most other adults to use rules to make their lives anything but fun. Sadly, there are adults who espouse the same beliefs and theories, they just simply never grow out of them.
But there may be something to those theories. Sometimes, rules and systems can get in the wrong hands. Sometimes, there are individuals who take rules which were intended for good and positive things and they misuse them to manipulate people and to lord their power over others. Their intention isn't to protect people but instead to show how much control they can have over the lives of people who fall within the system of rules.
Each and every one of us is capable of taking rules and using them for our own self-interest. Our motivations may differ, but it is possible for systems and rules which were intended for good to be abused. We have seen this in communities, in states, in countries, in churches, and in other places throughout our world. Dictators come in and make the rules as they go, becoming the adult equivalent of a three year old playing a game that he or she has made up with the only rule being that they will win no matter what.
Rules can be used to measure ourselves against others. Generally, we can come out looking really good or really bad in comparison. If we follow the rules, we may consider that we are deserving of something, that we have earned something. If we don't follow the rules, we may not be surprised when there are consequences to breaking those rules, but it probably won't stop us from crying about the injustice of it all.
The best systems that I have experienced are the ones in which there are some sort of checks and balances, put in place for the protection of everyone involved. While they certainly aren't foolproof, they may prevent some of the strong abuses that could easily become prevalent under broken and sinful people.
When Jesus walked the earth, there was a group of people who liked rules. They liked to keep the rules and point out everybody who couldn't keep them. Truth is, they were deluded in thinking that they could actually keep the rules. Outwardly, they had kept the rules, but inwardly, they were in major violation of them. Jesus reserved some of his strongest words for this group.
God knew that no one was capable of following and obeying all of the rules, that's why he sent Jesus. He was the only one who could live perfectly, without breaking the rules, outside or inside. Jesus' words in his teaching were that he had not come to do away with rules, but to fulfill them. He had come to show that it was impossible to follow rules and that he had provided a way for us to still be okay despite the fact that we continue to break rules.
We all have to live by rules and we generally can't do anything about that. What we can do is make sure that when we are the ones enforcing the rules, we can keep ourselves in check and have others do the same thing. We can do our best to make sure that our own self-interest and selfish motivation doesn't take advantage and abuse a system that was put into place for the benefit and well-being of others.
There's more to say on this topic, but I'll reserve that for a Part II.