As young people, we’re generally not huge fans of rules. We like to make up our own minds using our own reason and we hate being told what to do—especially if we are told to do something for seemingly no reason at all (like making your bed in the morning when you’re just going to sleep in it again at night).
At first, we may just put up with the nonsensical rules out of fear of getting in trouble. When this is no longer enough, we’re faced with two options:
1) We decide that we know better and we figure that the fun we’ll have breaking the rules is worth the consequences or punishments that will most likely befall us.
2) We talk to the boss (usually mom and dad) and figure out what the deal is with the rules. And even if we still don’t quite understand them, we figure that our parents have our best interest at heart, and the love and respect we have for them is enough to get us to obey the rules.
If you paid attention closely, you may have noticed that it all really comes down to some form of love. When we obey rules out of fear of punishment, it’s because we’re smart enough to love ourselves enough to not want to get punished. On the other hand, when we break rules, we’re declaring that we love pleasures or laziness so much that we don’t even care that we’ll eventually be hurt by the punishment our actions bring with them.
This is why our faith cannot be merely a set of rules. Faith, in order to be fruitful, has to be based on the love of a person outside of ourselves—the person of Jesus Christ. We need Jesus to teach us how and why to love. We need Him to teach us why the rules are there, and if we don’t understand some of them, we need to know that, like a father, He only gives us rules for our own happiness and well-being. We can’t know this simply by being told. We have to know it for ourselves; we have to know Him.