Rules vs. Relationship

Steven Laman

READ : Romans 7:7-25

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (vv. 24-25 NIV)

As an elementary school volunteer aide, I enjoy leading a unit on the novel Rules by Cynthia Lord. Her book tells the story of a preteen named Catherine and her younger brother David. David’s actions often embarrass her because of his autism. To combat this, Catherine comes up with a list of practical rules for David. However, time and again David breaks the rules.

Like David in that book, we often fall short of God’s holy law. No one knew this better than the apostle Paul. He used to be a Pharisee—a real stickler for following the rules. He used to lament that he sinned so often, even calling himself a wretched man. Then Jesus helped him to realize that it was not through following the law that he was made righteous but through a relationship with Christ.

At the end of the novel, Catherine figures out that having a relationship with her brother is more important than insisting he follow the rules. Even though Jesus wants us to live up to God’s perfect standards, he wants a relationship with us. That is why he came to earth and died on a cross. Once we accept Christ, his perfect life is credited to us, opening the door for us to also have a relationship with a holy God.


Jesus, thank you for making a relationship with God possible.