The good and the bad of rules and boundaries

(Photo: Unsplash/Vek Labs)

We exist in systems of rules and boundaries, limits and constraints. Speed limits and road markings protect us from the inherent risks in cars and other vehicles. Election rules and systems of government enable countries to (hopefully) operate fairly and productively for all people.

And the ultimate example: God-given boundaries enable us to safely explore the earthly world around us while remaining close to our Shepherd. They can be framed as limitations, but rather than hindering our experience of life, the intention is to enhance it.

We need these earth-rules and God-boundaries to exist in the world. They are beneficial to all people. They are good things. But as with many good things, in our human-ness we can twist them and manipulate them, pushing the rules further out as we permit anything and everything according to our own agenda, or perhaps tightening up the rules as we attempt to exert power and sovereignty over other people.

In our desire to be bigger than ourselves, we change the rules to suit the game we want to play.

Limited by other's opinions

In the generations who are attached to their phones, we see the influence of social media and advertising. Not a new thing exactly - airbrushed magazines and the glamour of Hollywood have existed long before iPhones and Instagram filters - but the effects seem more prevalent.

Limitations are placed on young people - what they should look like, what clothes they should wear, the shape of their face, the style of their hair. These are limitations on our uniqueness. We were created individually, but we feel pressure to conform.

These limitations go beyond physical appearances too. The monetisation of lifestyles means that anyone with a significant audience can become an expert on how to live your best life. We take tips and tricks from influencers on how to be more productive, more successful, more content.

We are not successful if we are not within a specific parameter of what is deemed success by the views of those with a platform. We end up aiming for the same expectations and standards, limited by what is popular and what makes money - rather than looking beyond that to see who God created us to be.

Increasing anxiety, persistent insatiability and hustle culture are all symptoms of the impact that false limits (or trying to push good limits) has on humans. We end up burnt out, in debt, always saying 'when this happens, I will be happy, I will have enough'.

We miss out on enjoying the present moment, being content with what we have, with joyful hope and a sense of peace about the future.

God's love beyond limits

Thankfully God's love isn't conditional on how well we live within these false limitations - we don't need perfect skin, a well-styled home, and a heavily regimented wellness routine to be saved and loved by Jesus. And we know that God's love for us is truly the only thing we need.

Furthermore, God himself is not limited. He is not bound by the same limitations that trap us in our minds and dictate how we dress our bodies.

The following verse may be a helpful reminder and proof of God's unlimited nature.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians chapter 3, verse 20).

God's power is limitless. He can do immeasurably more than we can imagine - which must be a lot because some people's imaginations seem to go on forever. This can seem a bit overwhelming, considering the boundless vastness, but ultimately it points to our freedom.

Our God, who can imagine beyond the deepest ocean trench, the highest mountain peak, the widest grassy plain, the furtherest horizon, loves me and knows me - just one human among billions.

And beyond us, God has power and plans, and glory and grace broader than anything that concerns us.

God is limitless. We don't need to feel small or constrained, or beaten down by our inability to work overtime, spend hours studying, run a household, keep up a social life, be well read, exercise regularly, volunteer at church, enjoy our hobbies, heal and learn from the past, and plan and hope for the future.

In God's limitlessness, we can enjoy an abundant life and that needn't overwhelm us.

Republished from Christian Today UK.