Whether you’re a parent or not, you’ve probably had some experience with the phrase (usually said with a whine), “Do I have to? Why?” Believe me, there have been times when my best comeback was, “Because I said so.” But it’s a valid question, really. As I pause to consider our freedom in Christ, I wonder… Other than believe, do we “have to” do anything?
Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians, that law and grace cannot co-exist. But it’s not as clear-cut as grace=good and law=bad (imagine a world in which none of God’s commandments were obeyed). Our human nature isn’t always sure which way to side. Maybe it seems easier to think in black and white, dos and don’ts, because then we have a list to check off and can still feel like we’re in control. Problem is, we can’t perfectly follow the law without Christ: No one is righteous, not even one. (Romans 3:10)
Enter grace: Our sins—past, present, and future—nailed to the cross with Jesus, making us right with God. (Col 2:13-14) Grace doesn’t play by rules, but is ruled by love. The law says, “You Have To…” Grace says, “Now that Christ is in you, let His Spirit guide you in following God’s will—not because you Have To (your flesh may still not always want to)—but because you’re full of love.”
So, do you Have To? No. But should you anyway? That’s between you and God, our perfect Father, who no longer says, “Because I said so,” but “Because I love you. And because you love Me.” I think I’ll try that approach with my kids too.