I agree with Walter Brueggemann's description of God that I started out with in this series - "wild, dangerous, unfettered and free" - and I believe that is how God intended for us to live too. And I believe that if each of us would discover the wild, dangerous, unfettered and free person that we truly are, that life would be expressed in the form of love and grace that far exceeds what we could ever even hope to express through adherence to laws and rules.
But in order to bring that person out into the beautiful experience of that life, we've got to get over our obsession with God's laws and man's rules and regulations! Neither of these things can ever produce what our lives joined with the Spirit can produce. "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh..." (Rom 8:3). What could God's law not do? It could not produce righteousness. It could not produce Life. It could not produce Love. So we had to die to the law in order to become married to (joined together with) Life and Love (Jesus). (See Rom 7:4-6).
As for the rules, regulations and traditions of man, "these things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Col 2:23). God's laws and man's rules and regulations have absolutely no power to cause the new-creation life within to truly live as it was intended to live. That life is only stifled by laws and rules. Indeed, for many of us, that life is lying beneath the surface, suffering underneath the weight and burden of law and rules, dying to get out and be free, and truly, finally live!
Dangerous and wild. I'll give a little attention to those words. First off, of course I'm not using those words in the sense of advocating licentiousness or senseless endangerment of anyone's life. What I'm talking about is a "dangerous" God who says that as the wind blows and you can't see where it's coming from or where it's going, so it is with those who are born of Him. You can't control the wind. You can't predict its every move. You never know what will happen next! We tend to live safe, "controlled" lives, whether based on laws and rules, or based on fear or a desire to be in control or any number of other things. We're afraid of stepping out into adventure because we don't know what will happen, and so we remain stuck with the so-called "security" of seeing (or at least being able to try to predict) how things will turn out.
And if we don't impose laws and rules, won't people just get out there and go crazy and get all licentious and sinful? We at least need to shackle them a little bit, so they remember how to behave, right? And so they don't go flying off the handle and getting themselves into trouble. We need to keep them in an enclosure, kind of like the one that held the lonely Bald Eagle I saw at the Omaha Zoo a few years ago. Poor thing. He just sat there, perched on a piece of bark, fettered and unfree (not unfettered and free), not able to soar high up in the sky like he was born to do. Not able to hunt. Not able to be natural.
What I'm getting at with all of this is that rules and regulations and laws are not meant to be the basis for our lives. Again, we've got to get over that so we can focus on the true basis and essence of our lives: Christ in us. He is enough. He is our everything. He is our life. The reason we find ourselves not keeping the rules is because we're focused on the rules and not on Him! And if we would simply focus on Him, our faith would naturally express itself through love. "For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love" (Gal 5:6, The Message).
Rest in the Vine and be who you were created to be. Don't let anyone else tell you who you're supposed to be. It might sound strange, but my thoughts on all this got started a few days ago when I was listening to a replay on the radio of Casey Casem's Top 40 Countdown from some week in the 1980's. For some reason he was talking about the band from the 60's, The Troggs, who are most definitely best known for their smash hit Wild Thing. What stuck out to me was that Casey said the band had lots of other records over the years, but due to their 'suggestive' lyrics and vulgarity, most radio stations didn't play their music. However, the band didn't try to change in order to be accepted. They kept on being who they were, not conforming to the standards of the music industry, even if that meant their songs wouldn't be played on the radio.
Now of course I'm not suggesting that vulgarity and suggestive talk is what Christ's love being expressed through us looks like! But I do want to use this example to encourage Christians to not give in to being "conformed" to what others think you should be. Paul used the words, "be transformed (not conformed) by the renewing of your mind." Renewed to what? Renewed to the truth of who God is and to the truth of who we are in Him. Live from your true identity. Live from your new-creation nature. Don't allow yourself to be tamed and domesticated through a life of useless, and even crippling laws and rules that we were never meant to live by anyway. Get out there and be wild. Be dangerous. Which way will the wind blow? Who the heck knows! Live unfettered and free!