There is a child who wakes up in the morning, bleary-eyed from a good night’s rest. He sits up in bed and scratches his forearm where the sleeve of his too small pajama shirt left a slight indentation on his skin. He pops out of bed knowing that he’s usually the first of his siblings to wake up, and if he’s fast enough, he’ll get first pick of the cereal options. After a quick pit stop in the bathroom he, sprints down the hallway and then down the stairs. The TV is muted, flashing images of recent news reports. Mom sits at the table and greets him with the usual, “Good morning bud,” as he reaches for the chocolaty goodness he’s been thinking about all morning…all seven minutes of it.
“Hey babe…” he stops, knowing from her tone that all was not right in his little world. “Yes, mom?” he squeaked.
“So I’m looking at your planner here, and according to a note left by your teacher, you seem to have missed turning in a homework assignment.”
“Now remember when you were playing video games with your brother and I asked you last night if there was any homework you needed to do…you told me there wasn’t.”
“Ok, but mom listen,” he said as he finally turned his attention from the box of cereal that now called to him.
“No, no. It’s time for you to listen. As a matter of fact, come sit down. I’ve fixed you some buttered toast for breakfast.”
“I hate toast!”
“I know…but you know what I hate? I hate when my children lie to me and fail to do the things they are supposed to do, so you can come have a seat next to me and eat while we discuss the consequences your father and I have arranged for you…”
His shoulders drooped and he slumped toward his mother and sat heavily in the seat next to her. His stomach rumbled loudly as he picked up the toast that wouldn’t taste nearly as good as the bowl of chocolate he’d been dreaming of. His mom raised her eyebrows at the sound of his hunger rolling around his belly. “Traitor,” he thought to himself as he sighed and took a bite.
Another child, wakes up in the morning. Stiff from the cold that seems to live in his bones. He hoped that the others that usually congregated in the vicinity would start a fire that evening. His stomach rumbled within him, as it had done last night. He eyed the satchel that lay in the corner of the alleyway across from him. He knew the woman who owned the satchel probably had something edible in there.
He’d left home a few years ago. Escaping the overbearing and judgmental environment of his family home. Here, only God was his judge and he lived according to his own compass. He’d picked a couple pockets yesterday and gotten enough to have some McDonalds. But if he could find something in that satchel, he wouldn’t have to work as hard today…
In Romans 8:20-21 we read: For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
Many people view choosing to follow Jesus as subscribing to a long list of rules and regulations, or signing up to be judged as not good enough for all eternity. In truth, following Christ is subscribing to following two rules: Loving your neighbor as yourself and Loving God with all your heart mind and strength. It’s signing up to be liberated from judgement for your actions and instead being judged based on the actions of Christ who died for all mankind. It’s signing up to live in the freedom and glory of the children of God.
When you think of children who grow up in the confines of a loving family that guides, directs and corrects a child in order to give a child the best possible version of life…versus a child who grows up in an environment based on changing whims of society…which child lives in true freedom? Boundaries and rules are not put in place to enslave us, but to free us from the consequences of living outside of them. May we not see the boundaries our Father has given us as prison bars, but a doorway to living a life free of the baggage of consequences. May we rest in the confidence that we are children in the confines of a loving family that guides, directs, and corrects us because of the great love our Father has for us.