Living by Principles

I’m a college graduate, graduating with honors in a four year technical degree. Further to that I completed a post grad diploma in my discipline and am halfway through a masters degree. I’m a technical, analytical person and love research and information. When it comes to leadership, I voraciously digested leadership and “christian” principles as if they would make or break me.

RS recently spawned another topic by riasing his beef with John Maxwell’s teachings becoming a rod for his back. But it’s not personal, nothing at all to do with John Maxwell per se. It’s all about being ruled by principles. There is a well known public speaker and author who travels the world commanding huge payments who makes a living delivering principles biblical principles that “wow” christians everywhere. I tried to get him to our state and contacted his office in this country and was faxed the form to fill out. Everything from the number of seats in our auditorium, to business class tickets for the speaker and his two aides, the layout plan for his products table and specifying what kind of food would be in his hotel room. But I digress.

The problem comes when we see the bible as a manual for living life. It is, but on it’s most fundamental level it isn’t. If it is just a manual for living, we can study it, derive principles from it and live by them. But actually what happens when we take this approach is that we end up living by principles, that is …. rules…. that is ummm laws, which is religion. Think about it.

Which brings us back to the garden doesn’t it. Two trees. One is knowing what’s right and what’s wrong (information and principles, rules, should do’s and must do’s) and the other the tree of LIFE. Principles look good, seem right, are pleasing to the “eye” but they’re deadly.

God wanted us not to live by principles, but to live by a person, the person of Jesus. Now there’s nothing wrong with the principles, as long as they came from the person of Jesus. Don’t ask people what principles work for them. Ask them how they got those principles and they will probably share a story about a time in their life that God showed them something powerful and caused them to grow. They fail us when they only share the information and not the journey. Their story helps us when it inspires us to go to the same person and walk with them on our journey and learn.

I absolutely love what Jesus said to Scrapheap Pastors: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

In other words, forget about principles, let’s just take a walk for a bit, hang out with me and we’ll get through with each other.

The bible is much more than a manual of “how-to’s”. It’s primarily a story about a God who wanted so much to just be with us because of love, not for what he could get out of us, or for what we could do for Him.


One Response

  1. I love how you say “share the journey and not just the principles”. I think there is so much more life in it when we share the journey. Principles can teach the mind, but stories change the heart.

    I have seen so many christians (there was one person on my staff who was like this) who keep speaking about how the bible must be supreme and we must be word based, but most of these people are also the most judgemental and critical people I know. They forget that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That the bible points us to Jesus. They become too sidelined by the “priniple” they learn in the bible that they forget about being kind, gracious…in other words being christlike.

    The bible is first an formost a story and we must learn to read it like that again.

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