Little Green Men

Anyone find it hard to follow the rules?

Pablo Picasso once said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

It seems to me like they’d be anarchy and no civilisation to speak of if we all didn’t agree to follow at least some rules. And if all we did was decide to break them when we didn’t like them, then we wouldn’t really bother to try and enforce them, cue anarchy once again.

I think that most of us can agree that it’s good to live in a society where the majority of us decide to follow the rules. Except we all see rule-breaking happening every day. It’s just we get used to it and deem it to be rule-breaking of such a low order, that it becomes insignificant and pointless to point out. In fact, we’re all probably tempted to break the rules many times a day. For example: When you’re stood at a pedestrian crossing, and you’re waiting for the green man to show up. You glance left and right, there are no cars coming from either direction so you decide to risk it while the red man is on display. Believe it or not, it’s not actually illegal to cross when you feel like it. Still, we’ve all decided to follow the rule of the green man as this is generally good for our health. But a lot of us break this rule or see it being broken regularly – and I hold my hand up here in confession!

While we’re talking about roads, there are many other rules that we see broken seemingly without a care in the world: Cyclists running red lights (and sometimes nearly knocking over that person who’s following the green man rule). Cars moving lanes without indicating (another not strictly illegal rule, but following this rule might prevent accidents). And the old chestnut, vehicles hogging the middle lane on a motorway – which is illegal and folks have been stopped and fined since this law was introduced!

I’m sure many, many other rules are broken regularly without anyone really doing anything about it. The question is, should we be bothered about it? If these things are not really harming anyone then can we just continue to live as is? Do we find these indiscretions as a little annoying, but not things that urgently need addressing? At what point does minor rule-breaking begin to turn into something more serious that needs attention?

I think that we should go careful when considering which rules are worthy of our obedience. What example do we set to others, particularly if we have little children, when we say, or show, it’s okay to break this rule, but not that? I’m not suggesting we can never have a little fun, but I don’t think this is the same as breaking the rules that have been set down to make us safer or to help our society run smoother.

The best we can do in all situations is to follow the excellent example of Jesus Christ. And yes, I’m even suggesting we ask the question of “What would Jesus do?”, despite the fact this may now seem a little clichéd to many.

The Bible challenges us to maintain a good and honourable standard through many verses written and through the words of Jesus. In the Book of Matthew, the writer encourages us to “Let our light shine brightly before others, so that the commendable things you do will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven.” In another verse from the Book of Proverbs, it says, ‘Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they’ve learned from you will be with them for life.” (Emphasis is mine.)

Being a dad of three, I particularly like that second example as well as being incredibly challenged by it!

I’d like to encourage us all to think about what we are doing in any potentially rule-breaking situations we find ourselves in. Are we setting a good example to others by being obedient in the little things, and through our actions showing what we truly value and what we hold dear? What kind of culture do you want to live in? What kind of culture do you want to help create?

When you’re facing that red man, and no traffic is coming your way, why not take a moment to pause and to think about the questions I’ve just posed rather than simply walking across the road.

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