rules, love, repentance

Been reading a crazy book lately, about freedom and church culture (those two things don’t really go together normally, do they!). Some mind-blowing truths about how to live in and govern freedom:

“When people sin, it is offensive […] it is natural to be offended when someone breaks the rules. We put people in prison and call them offenders. Our society is filled with sinners practicing sin, and naturally, our society is caught in a relationship with the rules. Even lawlessness is a relationship with the rules […]

Many rules call for many judges, and people love to play judge. That’s what headlines and newscasts are for, to help us sharpen our judgement skills […]

We have to be aware of how natural it is to be offended, and what offense does to you. What offense does to you is it justifies you withholding your love. I get to withhold my love from you when you have broken the rules, because people who fail are unworthy of love, and they deserve to be punished. In fact, what punishment looks like most often is withholding love. And when I withhold my love, anxiety fills the void, and a spirit of fear directs my behaviour toward the offender.

When we are afraid, we want control, and our responses to the sin of other people are a set of controls that help us feel like we are still in charge. The typical practices of the family, churches, and the government are to set a series of behaviours called punishments in front of an offender and require the offender to walk through these punishments in order to prove that the family, churches and government are still in charge in the environment […]

In a rule-driven environment, repentance […] signifies your willingness to let me punish you […] and the issue of the heart that led you to make the mistake in the first place is never dealt with, because the issue of relationship and love is never touched. The general attitude toward someone who is repentant in a rule-driven culture is, “You have surrendered your will to me in our environment. I’ll never be able to trust you though, because you have proven yourself to be a lawbreaker, and it will rest in my memory for a really long time. Until I begin to forget about how scared I was of you, I’ll never be able to empower you again.” […]

But true repentance is a gift. It’s not your option. It’s not your call. It is a gift that comes in a relationship. There’s no place for repentance in the rules, only for punishment. If you break our rules, then you pay our price. That’s just how it works. You pay the price in order to assuage the anxieties of the people in the environment that live within those rules. You do the crime, so you do the time. When we practice this in the Church, we are allowing ourselves to be defined by the limits of earthly government. When you break the law, the best earth’s government can do is to say, “We hurt them sufficiently so that you guys would calm down.”

The gift of repentance creates the opportunity for true restoration. In fact, it is absolutely necessary in order to heal a relationship that has been hurt by sinful behaviour. True repentance can only come through a relationship with God in which we come into contact with the grace of God to change […]

When God restores those who have repented, His process of restoration looks like reestablishing a royal family member in his or her place of rulership and honour […] the standard of the government of Heaven is that we learn to cultivate and protect our relationship with God, with love, and with each other. And if we can’t do it, we won’t reflect Heaven to the society we live in. We will just have stricter rules that offend us quicker, and we will judge more often and become more famous for being offended judges.”

— Danny Silk, Culture of Honour

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One thought on “rules, love, repentance

  1. Pingback: solitude, calling, and the internet man | sevenpeople

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