Every Wednesday, my husband and I take part in a 10 pin bowling pensioners league. I am not particularly good but I have learned the rules, how to score and the etiquette. Or course, nowadays the bowling machine does everything for you – sets up the pins, counts which ones you knock down, gives advice on how to get the rest and scores for you. It even monitors the foul line, gives a loud beep if you overstep, and displays a big red F next to your score, discounting any points you might have otherwise earned in that frame.
Yesterday, for the first time since I’ve been bowling in the league, I set off the foul line alarm. Not once, but three times. The first time I would have got a strike. I thought I had got a strike until I saw the ugly red F next to my name. It’s not like I did it on purpose! There was something about my bowling style that was wrong. After the third time, I was almost in tears. When I heard the beep I froze and checked the position of my front foot. It was way behind the line. Someone suggested my ball was too low and setting off the alarm. I could barely bowl at all during that game getting my lowest score in a long time.
Some people think God is like a bowling machine, just waiting for you to break one of the rules. They think Christianity is following a set of commandments. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Christianity is about relationship. God longs to have a relationship with us but our sin- nature (wanting to do things our way and being gods of our own lives) causes a barrier between us. Jesus did away with that barrier by taking our sin-nature upon himself and giving us His righteousness, removing the barrier to relationship. That sets us free to have a relationship with Him.
Phil 2:13 reads, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
If God works within us making us want to and able to do things His way, we’ll probably find that we’ll end up keeping the commandments anyway, but that is a by-product. We already have His approval. We don’t need to earn it. It is a gift.