FREESTYLING or CHRISTIAN LIVING BOUNDARIES?
Human nature only likes boundaries when they are convenient. So often we want to push the boundaries out of our way, jump over them or ignore them. Did you know that as a Christian you are expected to behave within certain boundaries? So much for laissez-faire, fluid and free-style Christian living! There ARE sides to the box and the Lord expects us to live within those sides. There ARE lines on the page and He expects us to write our lives between the lines. Christ left us a pattern for living and He doesn’t expect us to be creative and come up with a ‘style’ of our own choosing, based on our likes and dislikes and our idiosyncrasies.
When Peter wrote to believers about their attitude towards the government and towards their employers he concluded the section on ‘submission to authority’ with some beautiful verses:
because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example,
that ye should follow his steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again;
when he suffered, he threatened not;
but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
Christ left us an ‘example’ that we should follow His steps. We can define the English word ‘example’ rather loosely, but there’s nothing loose about the Greek word for this ‘example’. The word is only found once in the Bible and it is hupogrammos. Christ left us a hupogrammos! To us it almost sounds like an exotic African animal but to students in Peter’s day, they knew exactly what it was. The teacher would say: “Now class, for the next 30 minutes I want you to practice your writing skills. Get out your hupogrammos and go to it!” Practise precision.
The student would reach for his wax tablet – a very shallow box with an edge around it, with a thin layer of wax poured inside. The writing master would first draw parallel lines in the wax slate for the student and then write all the letters perfectly in the top line for the student to copy. The student would then take his own stylus and with the sharp end, carefully copy the perfect letters above, staying between the lines.
Another method the teacher used was to write the individual letters into the wax of the hupogrammos and then give the stylus to the student. Next, the teacher would place his hand over the student’s hand and guide the stylus along the grooves of each letter so no mistakes would be made. Then the student would practice himself and the edges of the grooves would keep him from straying beyond the boundaries.
That’s the picture of how closely we are to follow the Perfect Pattern. When it comes to suffering for wrongs of which we aren’t guilty or taking some heat for being a God-fearing Christian, we are to keep focused on Christ and pattern our responses and behaviour accordingly. The further away the writer is from the Original, the worse the copy becomes.
Freestyling may be popular in society but when it comes to Christian living it doesn’t have a place. God has given us His Word and has left us a Perfect Pattern to follow. Daily it’s my Christian responsibility to strive for perfect penmanship, writing my life between the lines, copying the angles and curves and shapes of all the letters in the spiritual alphabet. Christ is our hupogrammos.