It’s Time to Break the Rules

September 2016 - Emma McGeorge - Breaking the Rules.jpg

Jesus broke the rules. He defied the law. He was not exactly your average “middle ground of goodness” type of guy.

Sure, he lived what seems to have been a fairly mundane, normal kinda life, for the first part anyway. Not much seems noteworthy about his first few decades, except for a brief episode of teenage angst when he freaked out his mom by not telling her he was staying behind from a family trip to the temple.

Maybe that was the first indication that this boy, this Christ Child, was not going to play by the rules. By the time Jesus of Nazareth hit his 30s, the midlife crisis kicked in and he unapologetically disrupted society, culture, religion and the world with his radical, rule-breaking, religion-defying, simple, humble life.

The Rules of Religion

For a man widely associated with the Church, the saints and all around religious conventions, Jesus was conversely sacrilegious. Just watch the sudden gasp of the crowd who stood in frozen awe as he tore apart a marketplace in the temple. With a whip. Which he’d just made. With his big, muscled, carpenter’s hands.

Or feel the smouldering indignation of those who pointedly told him it was the Sabbath (clearly a holy day of pious reflection and rest), then watched in frustration and disbelief as he did the unthinkable and stretched out his hand and healed a broken man.

“Playing it safe” clearly wasn’t a phrase in Jesus’s vocab.

Neither was “religiosity”. For some reason, the pinnacle of all our sacraments and sanctifications wasn’t too fussed with making sure he walked within the clean lines that the law of religion so carefully penned.

The Rules of Culture

Nor was Jesus overly concerned with fitting into the culture of his day. Just hear the muted grumbling of the pompous, patriarchal leaders who watched in horror as he, in the midst of a dinner party of rich, proud and respectable men, blessed a woman. She who wept and snotted and collapsed all over his feet. Who doused his salt-bathed peds in perfume. And who then did the unthinkable and wiped it all down with her hair…!!??

And Jesus smiled, and forgave her, and calmly continued with the 7-course buffet like this disruptive little scene was the most normal occurrence in a woman-oppressing, religion-caressing environment.

The Rules of Expectation

By now, Jesus, the breaker and quaker of rules, had quite the reputation. Apart from his continual defiance of rules and norms, there was something glorious, something magnanimous, something incredibly powerful about this humble oxymoron of a prophet.

So the crowds clung to him, the towns rushed out to meet him, the crippled found healing at his hands, the beggars found love at his feet. “Teacher” they called him. “Rabbi” they revered him. And the great and mighty Christ surrounded himself with…

Fishermen.

Once again, when it came to expectations, this carpenter-turned-preacher had no qualms in tossing them aside like the gambling tables he’d once flipped. He hand-picked his team himself, choosing the roughest, toughest, most-likely-to fail-at-the-rules fishermen. They were not religious nor holy. They did not fit into the Church’s box or inspire holiness and piety.

They probably stank.

But Jesus wasn’t out to play by the rules. He was carefully and methodically toppling the Jenga towers of expectation, culture and even religion. He was not about to conform.

The Rules of Conformity

Everything Jesus said and did defied some aspect of the rules and systems of his day. Somehow, he missed the memo that said “Don’t Make Ripples”. Maybe he was too busy shouting down a storm or strolling on the raging sea.

Is it any wonder that Paul, having met a death-defying Jesus, wrote*:

“Don’t conform to the pattern of this world… Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.”

In other words—don’t follow the rules just because. Then Paul went on:

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

And the Jenga tower came tumbling down.

Rule-Breaking Love

If we’re honest, most of the time when we bypass the systems of our culture, or step outside the lines of our religion, or non-conform, we do it because we want to boast about how “un-PC” we are. Because we’re different. We’re smarter. We certainly aren’t associated with all the other dumb sheep running off the cliff.

But Jesus had a different motive. One that stemmed not from selfishness, but from selflessness. He broke the rules of stigma and superiority, that his humility might display God’s strength. He ignored the rules of pride and power, that grace’s invitation of restoration might belong to all.

It was love, not rules, which nailed Jesus Christ to the cross.

And this is the love—the highest “rule” of life—by which we may live by grace, and love with freedom, and sometimes even break the rules.

* quotes are Paul’s words, as recorded in the Bible versions of NIV, New King James, and The Message.

This article first published on Christian Today: http://www.christiantoday.com.au/article/its.time.to.break.the.rules/22775.htm

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Dear Baby Girl

You’re a young girl, a teen, a child to some, but soon you will be continuing further on the strange and glorious journey of womanhood.

There are so many things I would write you about this journey, and many are things you will learn for yourself, in time. But for now, I write to you, sweet girl, regarding this one aspect of your being that is the most beautiful thing about you, yet sadly sometimes the most difficult…

You are a woman.

You’re also a human being, and a unique and precious soul, but as well as all this, you are a female – a woman.

And while this a wonderful thing, it’s also a tough thing, baby girl, because we live in a world that is often subject to the various mistaken beliefs and thoughts that permeate it. And sometimes, somehow, the end result will leave you thinking that you – a girl, a woman – are not such a wonderful thing after all.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

You deserve respect.

Does this annoy some? Then they have forgotten that it was one of our kind who bore them into this world with sweat and pain and tears and blood. They have forgotten that we all – men and women – are irrevocably bound by our mutual humanity.

Like me, you will not understand why this holds no sway in the realms of safety and wages and rights. We, as women, have to fight for these and more. But it does not change the fact that all of humanity, with its mash of gender and colour and religion, still boils down to one thing – human beings.

The world may have an issue with your femaleness, but they can never do anything about your humanness.

You manifest intelligence.

Does this affront some? Then they have not read the works or heard of the inventions or felt the impact of women’s minds in unhindered action.

There is so much evidence of powerful intelligence – female intelligence – that has disrupted this world with brilliance and blasted enlightenment through murky clouds of slow advancement.

Intelligence runs through the veins of our gender, baby girl – and yes, of the male sex too. Yet it seems unfeasible to some that we, as women, could ever match the intelligence of our male counterparts. Such people evaluate intelligence based merely on the gender of the intellectual.

Ironically, the only thing that can measure one’s level of intelligence is, well, the level of their intelligence…

You have a voice

Does this frustrate some? Then they have not heard clearly the voices of the women who have gone before us and who have changed their communities, their countries, and even the world with the strength of their voices.

Or perhaps it pains them not only to hear a woman’s voice added to the fray, but also to witness the rippling effects of her sound waves. Such thinkers will wonder, darling girl, how it is that you, a woman, can combine your beliefs and passions and skills, put your voice to a cause, and soaringly – inconceivably – perform. Yet perform you will.

Could it be that the reason we women are oppressed and suppressed and repressed is simply due to fear? Could it be that the world is afraid of women who will not be held back by their gender?

The mystery may remain, but it cannot muffle the worldwide chime of our voices in full chorus.

So sing loud, baby girl. Sing loud and clear.

You are worthy

Does this pop the gender-gap bubble? Then they have not realised that hundreds of thousands of women and men are with us on this stance.

For every “woman oppressor” that rants, you and I are affirmed and acknowledged by many more people as having obvious value in society, the workplace, the home. As women, we have a unique viewpoint, bringing freshness and insight into the world.

Believe it, baby girl. Because that is the secret of your unwavering confidence in the very thing that they would like to cripple you with – you are a woman. And that is a part of your worth.

You are not alone

You are part of a long line of extraordinary ordinary women. Women who were not defined by their status. Who dared to see beyond themselves with courage and love. Who stood bravely for the good of others, regardless of whether the “others” were male or female.

Their legacy is your legacy, beautiful girl.

Remember this whenever you face the anti-feminist backlash, or dare to seek equal pay, or boldly speak out on behalf of your sisters around the world.

You are not alone.

You are a woman

By default, this means you will be forced to take a stand. Against oppression and disrespect. Against domestic abuse. Against the gender wage gap. Against any gap that has nothing to do with competence or confidence, and everything to do with differences in beliefs, or skin colour, or the pathetic excuse of gender.

It seems unfair that you and I have no choice but to fight for the bridging of the gaps. We didn’t choose this war. We don’t want to have to prove ourselves over and over.

But when the going gets tough, baby girl, stand tall and remember…

Yes, you are a woman

Smart? You bet. Worthy of respect? Definitely. Deserving of equal pay? Of a voice? Of genuine affirmation as a human being?

Yes, yes and yes.

Go change the world, beautiful woman

Dedicated to all women who are underpaid, undervalued and underestimated, simply because they are the beautiful truth: “Yes, I am a woman.” #heforshe

First published on Christian Today: Dear Baby Girl