When I was in first grade, my teacher was a stickler for coloring within the lines.
I had a rather cavalier attitude about crayons; I wasn’t particular about lines because I daydreamed while coloring. I wouldn’t pay attention to the edges–which got me “messy” stickers.
My twin sister, however, was a neat and clean color creator. She got stars on her papers.
I learned her trick. She colored dark lines around the edges so she’d be sure to notice them.
In school, it was essential to work within the lines. Write within the margins. Make sure the letters sat correctly on the lined pages. Play within the limits of the playground. Stay in your seat unless given permission to get up.
Growing up often dims our appreciation for margins and lines. How many of us really enjoy being told what we can and can’t do? What child, as they grow, doesn’t believe they know everything?
I’ve been there. At times I’m still there. Being restricted by someone else doesn’t always sit well with me.
At a time when we’re globally restrained by the needs of something bigger than all of us individually, it’s important to remember one significant thing.
Confinement of the body is not confinement of the soul. We need to think outside the box–and feel comfortable with coloring outside the lines.
I love a good routine that works for me. A way of doing things with somewhat expected results. We are, by nature, creatures of habit.
I’m finding it rather freeing right now to be forced outside the usual. New ways of doing my job, of connecting with people, of accomplishing what is important to me.
And who’s to say different isn’t better? Just because I haven’t done something a certain way before doesn’t mean it isn’t a really good option.
Jesus was adept at changing the way things were done. He entered a world full of rules and laws that were oppressive from both sides. The Romans had laws that they adapted to their whims and needs. If their rulers wanted more money, they made a way to get it. Not caring who suffered in the process. The Jewish leadership, the Pharisees, had so many laws to follow in order to be a good Jew that no one could even come close.
Jesus didn’t come to disregard the law. That’s the recipe for chaos. He did come to fulfill it, to pay a price we couldn’t so we could receive a gift we don’t deserve. His grace and mercy in exchange for our brokenness.
Such a new way of doing things made sense to some, frustrated many, and angered others. Jesus did life differently, coloring outside the lines of comfort and expectation for a more spectacular, beautiful, and complete picture.
When Jesus brought a new way, it was so much better than how people had attempted to engage God before. With Jesus, we come on His merit. Not on whether we’re good enough or not.
That’s a creative difference we can all live with.