Imagine a busy city street stripped of all markings, barriers, traffic lights and even kerbs. The “naked street” idea has won rave reviews in Europe and has been mooted for London by its mayor. Instead of the standard array of road markings to tell drivers and pedestrians what they should be doing, they will be encouraged to react to each situation as seems right at the time.
Roadside instructions can be frustrating but they also give a sense of security. We assume that others will obey the same rules as we are following and that this will make everything operate safely. Anyone who ignores a one-way sign, or fails to give way where they should, incurs the often noisy wrath of other road users. Busy roads are no place for people to be doing their own thing.
Making up his own rules is just what people thought Jesus was doing. He incurred the wrath of his contemporaries because he ignored the conventions of behaviour, making love his only criterion. His apparently cavalier attitude to Jewish laws made people feel unsafe.
It also put pressure on him. Being set free from an obligation to follow established rules sounds freeing, but having to think through every move from scratch is much more demanding.
We can choose today to do what’s conventional not stopping to think for ourselves. Or we can imitate Jesus who responded to each situation in the way uniquely appropriate to it.
Read: For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another (Galatians 5.13)
Rejoice: in the freedom God gives me to make my own decisions.
Reflect: What are the kinds of situation where I’d prefer just to be told what to do?
Remember: that God’s happy when we share with him the responsibility for using our freedom well.
Resolve: to let love be my criterion not convention or habit.