Jeremy and our grandson, David, called to say they were walking to our house from school. Good, I thought, a little walking won't hurt them.
Jeremy's mother thought otherwise. When she heard that Jeremy had walked, she grounded him. She's very protective and evidently has visions of him being hit by a car at some crossing. She wanted none of it.
To thirteen-year-old Jeremy, his mom's concern and punishment were unreasonable. Wasn't he old enough to care for himself? Wasn't he helping by being willing to walk? Didn't she trust him? He was obviously miserable ... not only because he was grounded, but because his mother was treating him like a seven-year-old!
Uncle Morris thought it was a good idea. Jeremy had thought it was a super idea. It was only Mom that thought it was a lousy idea. Clearly the question was not whether walking was right or wrong. The question ... the bottom line ... was, "Who's to say?"
Man's fate lies with the answer to this question. I'm always sure that what I want is best for me, and I can always find people like Uncle Morris who agree with me. But when push comes to shove, it's the one who makes the ground rules that determines what is acceptable.
It's a question of who calls the shots!
It is interesting to note that, while Jeremy didn't like it, he bowed to it because his relationship with his mother was more important than her seeing it his way. It was all a part of a mother/son relationship that recognized the right of the mother to lay the ground rules. It was something that Jeremy, as a benefactor of the relationship, accepted. It wasn't the first time he had questioned the ground rules, but he never questioned her right to make them ... which kept the relationship intact.
You'll notice, too, that Jeremy didn't appeal to Uncle Morris to intervene ... even though he sensed that Uncle Morris saw no wrong in his walking. Even in his misery, it never occurred to him to draw Uncle Morris into his mother/son disagreement. Had he had a dad, he might have appealed to him, but he didn't have one, and that left he and his mother to work out their lives together. Life with Mother included happiness, security, comfort, identity, education, promise, and, yes, discipline ... and he was not about to forfeit these over a temporary grounding, like it or not!
And this brings up some basics when we are talking about human rights and life's ground rules.
Our illustration is a good one because, to Jeremy and Uncle Morris, the ground rule was flawed and its maker unreasonable. Yet her right to make it was never questioned ... only her wisdom in making it. Once the question of "rights" was settled, three options were open to Jeremy.
First Option ... He could outright reject his mother's "right," and start on a path of disobedience ... thus breaking the relationship with all its benefits.
Second Option ... he could acknowledge his mother's "right," and accept the penalty, but spoil the relationship by complaints and pouting. The benefits would still be there, but the happiness of the relationship would be missing.
Third Option ... he could accept his mother's "right" and penalty, and ask forgiveness ... assuring himself of healing and happiness with all the benefits of a mother/son relationship.
Maybe we'd better address this matter of "right" when it comes to laying life's ground rules ... and here is where "faith" comes into focus.
You see, a mother's judgment may be flawed, making her "rights" suspect. But our relationship with God must be based upon His existence, His righteousness, and His "right" as Creator to lay the ground rules for a Creator/creature existence. Faith means complete confidence in God's love and judgment.
So, when we talk about rights, we have to start with "Creator rights" which take precedence over all rights that creatures might claim. Human rights, civil rights, minority rights, individual rights ... in other words, all "creature rights," must give way to what God says is right... i.e., to "Creator rights"!
And where does God declare His rights In the Word of God ... the Bible! Again it is a matter of faith. We accept the written revelation of God's ground rules for living as they are found in the Bible. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). To live by faith is to live by the Word of God.
And what does the Word of God say? "He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him " (Hebrews 11:6). We start by believing in God ... we continue by believing in His righteousness, and we live by seeking, not our own rights but the right of the Creator! I see no point in arguing with promoters of "creature rights" who are unwilling to recognize "Creator rights."
Usually they are people of the first option mentioned above who have long ago written off God as having any rights whatsoever! Don't waste your time! They have rejected God's right to make the ground rales. There is no arguing with them because their base of authority is not the Word of God, but rather their own judgment. They fulfill the prophecy of Satan who promised, "ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil."
What Satan didn't tell them was that, by refusing Creator rights, they would forfeit all the benefits of Creator/creature relationship!
It is true that God's ground rules appear to be unreasonable at times, and faith for obedience is called for. But when "Creator rights" are rejected and "creature rights" substituted, the result is a broken relationship with God ... just as it was with Adam and Eve. What a tragedy!
By becoming true believers, the "whose got the right to lay the ground rules" question is answered. Salvation is a matter of submission ... of saying, "from now on what you say goes." Obedience replaces rebellion as faith is put in God and a "Creator rights" relationship is established.
Our problem, with believers, is really in the second option.
It is an unhappy compliance with the rules. It is a person under the law. It is a no lose, no win situation in which the benefits of the relationship are not forfeited, but the joy of a clear conscience and warm fellowship are lacking. It is a precarious kind of living, for being a believer becomes bleak existence indeed, and many who do not avail themselves of a relationship of love and happy fellowship with God find themselves under constant condemnation. They are to be pitied ... and prayed for!
Theirs is a life of "grit your teeth and get on with it" ... of "O.K., if you say so, but don't expect me to like it," or "I may be sitting down on the outside, but I'm standing up on the inside!" They acknowledge "Creator rights," but resent them. From this group come your hypocrites, your carnal Christians, and your backsliders. May God deliver us from such negative Christianity!
I saw Jeremy just yesterday. He was all smiles, and he was walking!
I don't know what went on between he and his mother, but it was obvious that they had "worked it out" and the love relationship was again in full bloom! Jeremy still accepted his mother's right to lay the ground rules, but it had gone beyond that to the third option. His misery was gone. By full and willing submission ... by communication and forgiveness ... things were back to normal. It was happiness for both Jeremy and his mother.
The secret of right relationship ... of happy relationship ... is complete submission ... of faith that "Mother knows best" ... or, in the case of Christians, "God knows best." Complete submission is a "no condemnation" relationship. Once we stop demanding our creature "rights," the battle is over and the condemnation is gone. This readiness to submit comes from an overriding desire to do God's will and a consuming passion to please Him. When our relationship to God means more to us than "having our way"... we will be quick to repent and reestablish fellowship even in times when we don't understand the purposes of the ground rules.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus ... for the law of Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death ... (Romans 8:12). Oh, to be free from rebellion! Oh, to be free from resentment! Oh, to be free from condemnation! The cry of the heart for a conscience free from guilt... for a "nothing between" relationship with God ... comes from a faith that totally accepts without question:
1. God's existence
2. God's righteousness
3. God's prerogatives