‘Does your church also forbid the smoking of wiet (marijuana)?’ I am asked by one of my Amsterdam colleagues. And then he goes on to explain that Jesus drank wine, and wine is so much worse for you than wiet. And Jesus did not drink beer, so maybe we should stop that too?
In Luke 13, we read about how Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath & how the religious leaders of the time were indignant about it. Jesus calls them hypocrits. How did they get to be so hypocritical? Well, God made a deal with the Israelites after He freed them from slavery. He said ‘I will be your God & you will be my people’ and then He goes on to explain how He wants to bless them, if only they would follow His instructions. He was saying how much He loves and cares for them. And what did they hear? Yeah, they heard the instructions. And they added books and books full of rules to it, just to make sure nobody accidentally get the instructions wrong.
Then Jesus came to set us free from the slavery of sin. He was showing how much He loves us. But what does the people out there hear the church tell the world about? Do they hear us telling the good news? No, often they know only about the rules that we believe everybody should live by. We should be telling then that God is love. But we do not know how to explain it in non-theological or non-theoretical terms. So we tell them ‘don’t smoke wiet’ and ‘don’t sleep around’. Those are fine instructions; please don’t get me wrong – that is what I live by & what I teach my kids. But only after I have shared the Good News with them.
Rules outside of relationship brings rebellion. That is true for raising children; but it is even more applicable in our relationship with others outside the church. If we force our rules on them before they hear the Good News, they will not accept us or our rules and will have no respect for our God.