“I love you, but …”

You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

–Ephesians 5:8-10, The Message

During a conversation with one of my son’s friends, she gave her opinion that Christianity is nothing more than a list of dos and don’ts—especially don’ts. When she considered her relatives who were professing Christians, she saw no joy, but only judgment. (No, I didn’t comment on that bit of irony.)

Instead, I talked to her about my marriage. Roger and I had been married for about 20 years at that point—long enough that it seemed more than a passing fancy. But here’s the thing. I’ve never come home and said to him, “Honey, I met this great guy today. I love you … But do you mind if I go out on a date or two with him? You do? Oh. Well, would it be all right if we just hold hands, then? No? How unreasonable can you be!”

Now, why have we never had that kind of conversation? Is it because there are rules against that sort of thing in marriage? Of course not. It’s because we love each other. We want to show that love, to please the other, not to push against the boundary to see how far we can go.

And that’s how it is with God. It isn’t always easy, at least for me; I’m selfish enough to want my own way far more often than I want to admit. But the desire is there. I want to do what’s pleasing to Him.

My son’s friend understood. She said she’d think about it, and it at least gave her a different perspective.

for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light  (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

–Ephesians 5:8-10, New American Standard Bible

If you’ve found yourself pushing against the boundaries, seeing how far you can go before something “counts” as sin, you might want to turn around and look at who it is that you’re pushing away from.

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