Boundaries & Freedom
Our one year old. Already testing her limits. Sunday night our small group met at the church building for Bible study, followed by a meal in the fellowship room. Like all good parents do, we let Annabelle crawl around on the dirty floor and told her to stay in the fellowship room. She could crawl anywhere in the room that she desired but could not go down the hallway. While she may not have understood our words, she is old enough to understand us picking her up the moment she started down the hallway only to find herself back in the fellowship room. The room we were eating in was huge! It was open with tables and many fun things for a one year old to explore. But where did she keep ending up? In the hall.
Does this story sound familiar?
“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) And so it began, the wrestling of good and evil, spirit and flesh, right and wrong, following God’s commands or choosing our own path, staying in the fellowship room or crawling down the hall. And the story has been repeated countless times ever since.
God has placed boundaries in our lives for a reason, for our protection, and ultimately for our good. Our human minds cannot always comprehend the reasons why but we can at least appreciate that if God said it, said boundary must be a good idea.
The Old Testament contains 613 commandments including the Ten Commandments. Each were for the good and safety of God’s people. Jesus came and did away with the old law, giving us just two commandments: love God, love others. Do anything you want as long as it falls under these two commands. Again, these are for our protection and God’s glory.
Yet, why do we insist on crawling down the hallway when God has given us the entire fellowship room? We have endless freedom in Christ! He has given us the Kingdom yet we grovel at the fleeting pleasures that we are “missing” out on.
How about this example: You have a friend who struggles with being what you would consider a good friend. Flaky on commitments, rarely returns phone calls, is just so “busy,” whatever. You are secretly keeping track and plan to give her a taste of her own medicine. While you would deny keeping score, the jumbotron is glowing brightly in your mind. You know the score. She deserves to know what this feels like. She deserves it.
Ugh, how exhausting! And yet because of Christ, you don’t actually have to keep score. You keep forgiving-seven times seventy if my memories serves me correctly. Plus some. This may sound small but especially for women, keeping score in relationships can be something that steels our freedom and joy quicker than just about anything. The boundary here is loving others. And forgiving a friend falls under “loving others.” I have tried both sides of this coin and believe it or not, keeping the score at 0-0 is actually much easier.
This boundary in friendship: love. Just love. And unconditional loves brings freedom.
Or how about this one: God has given us everything for our enjoyment. We are in our different stages of life for a reason. You live in that town for a reason, married to that person for a reason, are single for a reason. God has entrusted us to be good stewards not just of our possession but of life. Our lives. Not someone else’s life. Ours. And shifting our gaze to what someone else has and comparing and ultimately envying is a boundary that must not be crossed. And do you know why? Because God knows what that can lead to. The freedom to live within the talents, relationships and possessions that he has given allows us to live life to the full. It frees up our mind and energy to use our gifts, to serve others, to spend time in the Word. We are no longer bogged down by what we don’t have but enjoy freedom to use what we do have.
You can fill in more examples from your own life. Which boundaries are you blowing past because you have bought the lie that the way of the world has more to offer? Which hallway do you keep crawling down when you have the entire room to move in freedom? And which crossed boundaries are in fact binding chains?
Know God’s boundaries. Stick to them. And live in freedom.
Boundaries lead to freedom. How ironic.