by Michael Holland
Each year I’m committed to reading completely through the Bible. This year I’m reading the Chronological Bible, which aligns events according to when they occurred. At the moment, I am in the Leviticus era, and no matter how many times I read through this book, I struggle with the tremendously detailed rules and how to apply them to my spiritual journey. But as I read through Leviticus this morning, I was reminded of a short talk by Andy Stanley.
In it, he provides some guidance on understanding Leviticus. Loosely paraphrased, he says that the new wandering society of previous slaves who had just left Egypt needed to learn how to live with some structure in their lives. Living under the thumb of oppressors meant they were told everything they could and couldn’t do, and so after they were freed from slavery, their lives were completely ungrounded. So God was supplying rules to help the wandering society build structure, eat foods that would be healthy and manage potential outbreaks in diseases, and the like. Thousands of years later, these rules are difficult to put into perspective but in those days they were more applicable.
As parents, we create all sorts of crazy rules for our kids. At the time, they are 98% applicable, though in later years some of our rules might seem a bit unusual. Our intention was – and is – to communicate what’s important while also protecting our kids from both expected and unexpected challenges. I wonder though how my grandkids’ grandkids will look upon some of the rules my wife and I created for our kids. What will they think of our “limiting Myspace access until 9th grade” rule? The “if you slam your bedroom door too many times, Dad takes it off the hinges for a couple of days” rule? Or the “you must finish your over-processed, barely-healthy dinner of chicken nuggets, macaroni & cheese, and those 5 green beans before you can have dessert” rule? And what about “your cell phone must be in the den by 11:00 pm each night”?
Myspace? Cell phone? Chicken Nuggets? Doors without hinges? The guiding structure and intention can get lost in the details of a rule, but the love and desire to care for our kids should always come through.