But is Christianity the same? Don't we have lists of rules to follow as well?
"No, of course not!" You might say, "Christianity is not a religion; it's a relationship."
Then we come to Hebrews 13...and a list of things we are told to do.
- Let brotherly love continue
- Be hospitable
- Remember those in prison for their faith
- Hold marriage in high honor, keep it undefiled
- Do not be greedy, but be content with what you have
- Remember that the Lord is with you and will never forsake you
- Honor your spiritual leaders, and if they are faithful, imitate them
- Do not be led away by strange teachings
- Do not become too attached to the things of this world
- Do not neglect to do good
- Obey your leaders joyfully
A list of rules, right? How can we argue that our "religion" is different when we have lists of commands to obey as well?
All of you who are freaking out right now, "WHAT IS SHE SAYING?????" Don't panic:)
One of the major differences between other religion's list of rules and passages such as Hebrews 13 is the purpose of the instructions. Other religions promote these rules and ways of life as a means of salvation, as it were. Whether salvation from the cares of this life, or from the punishment of after-life, that differs, but the purpose is to obtain some right standing.
As Christians and followers of the Holy Scriptures, we believe that there is NOTHING we can do to obtain right standing before God. Our righteousness is like filthy rags before Him. There is not one of us who is capable of doing enough good to tip the heavenly scale in our favor and be allowed into heaven: not one.
It is only by the shed blood of Christ and His propitiation for our sins that we may gain eternal life with God and an abundant life here on earth! It is only by His Grace toward sinners that we can be anything other than a stench before Him.
Then what is the purpose of passages like Hebrews 13? Why should we follow such "rules"?
The purpose of these instructions is found in verse 15: "Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name."
And it is reitterated later in verse 20: "Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
We do things to bring glory and praise to the One Who Was and Is, and Is to Come! We do these things as a sacrifice of praise to the One Who deserves everything we are and have, since He gave all of Himself for us! We are only able to do these things through His strength and for His glory!
We can in no way obtain mercy and grace for ourselves by following rules such as these-PRAISE THE LORD! But by following them with our whole hearts, we can offer to God a sweet aroma of praise from those Whom He has redeemed, "that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."