I had to laugh last week when I read Glynnis Whitwer’s Proverbs 31 daily devotion, “I Would Have Made a Great Pharisee.”  Whitwer discusses her love of rules and how even religious rules sometimes move her focus from where it should be – the condition of her heart.

No, it wasn’t a particularly funny devotional, but it reminded me of this summer’s Bible study program at my church.  The first night of class, a scheduling conflict kept our craft lady from attending.  Fortunately, her adult son agreed to take her place.  No, he’d never taught arts and crafts, but he had taught children as young as 3 to play golf.  We, Presbyterians gathered for Bible study, wouldn’t have clubs to swing so how hard could it be?

And he did great with the kids.  Handing out the quilt squares and fabric markers, he told them to draw a picture showing what they were grateful for.  It worked great.

With the kids.

He gave the same directions to my adult class and that’s when the questions started.  I don’t remember the specific questions, but I do remember his look of panic as they tried to get him to give them some parameters, establish some boundaries, and lay out the rules.  Yes, I laughed, but mostly at myself, because I wanted answers to the same questions.  After all, didn’t there have to be a right way and a wrong way to do this?  And it was important to get this right since our efforts were going to be made into a quilt for all to see.

I often react the same ways to God’s rules.  Do unto others . . . which others?  In every situation?  Be kind to our neighbors . . . does that mean the people down the street, too?  The ones with the yapping dog?  And what about someone on the other side of the world?  Who doesn’t believe what we believe?  Certainly they don’t count, do they?   Judge not . . . wait, does that mean I can’t call gangster rap evil?  Or look down my nose at women who dresses trashy?

Give the same rules to a group of children, and they know pretty much what God wants.  Treat people with kindness.  Sure, that might mean sharing their snack or letting you borrow their snuggly, but isn’t that actually a much better approach then our quest to limit the situations in which God’s Rules apply?

Not that I’ve managed to quell my own desire for clearer guidelines, but at least I’m laughing.