Last week I promised one more Downton Abbey post from the season three finale. In a quick scene, tucked in amid the high drama, Mrs. Hughes says a final goodbye to a house maid who had just been fired. Mrs. Hughes explains, “There are rules to this way of life. And if you’re not prepared to live by them, then it’s not the right life for you.”
We bristle at the idea of having rules to follow as Christians. It smacks of legalism and everything that was wrong with the Mosiac law. Rules force us to serve out of obligation rather than love, and they pull us into trying to achieve God’s favor through merit rather than grace.
But there are rules to this way of life.
Jesus was very frank about the rules when it came to following Him. He said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let Him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) The rules are simple. Self-denial, surrender and sacrifice. Not very appealing, especially to a crowd who supposed that following Jesus meant bread and healing and other miracles. Not any more appealing to a crowd who thinks following Jesus means having all our problems solved and our wishes fulfilled.
He doesn’t make us follow. It’s strictly voluntary. He issues an open invitation to anyone who wants to come. Just understand there are rules. If we aren’t following the rules, we may not be following Jesus.