Words of Hope: The Why of Rules

I recently wrote an homage to my dad on LinkedIn highlighting a lesson he imparted to me and Jay as a great father. A few people interacted with the post. One person mentioned the lesson of not walking on the grass which made me chuckle. This was a mantra at NBC. “No walking on the grass.” We rented our facilities at NBC and Dad believed you should always leave something better than when you got it. He believed this showed respect and care for others. He loved to let people borrow his car. Those who treated his car well got to use it again. Those who left it, heaven forbid, messy and the gas tank empty, never got another opportunity. Dad valued a nice lawn and well-maintained grass. He didn’t want to see campers ruining the work others worked hard for. All of us as coaches enforced no walking on the grass. 

Even now when I am on a college campus or someone else’s property I am very conscious never to walk on the grass. I must intentionally tell myself, “You can walk on this grass. Go ahead.” I am thankful for this practical reminder to be considerate of other people. As time went by and Dad was less and less at camp, the rule of walking on the grass lost its context. Some coaches delivered the rule as an injunction with great intensity. A few made violation of the rule obnoxiously punitive. They in turn became reprimanded. As with any rule, unless the heart and mission of the rule is fully understood, it can be bent into a pejorative without insight or wisdom.  

This is one of the biggest failures, of the Christian church in my opinion, the inability to wisely contextualize “the why” and wisdom of a specific rule. I believe this failure is one of the reasons many people scorn some of the rules given by the church. I love that Dad worked hard to help me and others to understand the why behind what he taught. Understanding the why was important to Dad and gave me passion to receive the wisdom he delivered. 

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. – 2 Timothy 3:16