Updated: May 5, 2020
Like most Millenials and twenty-somethings, I am a YouTube viewer. I enjoy watching various videos about makeup, baking, and music. Sometimes I also check out content from the "leading" creators that come up in my trending tab. Just a couple of days ago I found myself idly scrolling and clicking on recommended clips. Without trying to, I started to pick up on an interesting underlying message that each channel seemed to be promoting.
The message was that "rules are bad".
One popular streamer said, "Planet earth is full of labels and I never feel comfortable with labels. I want to be my own person, my own identity, without any rules and without any restrictions."
Another video stated, "It is time to let go and be truly free. At the end of the day, I am me and you are you. You get to write your own story, live your life, and live it without any restrictions. You can be you. You are in charge of how to live your life."
Many videos went on to speak directly to their target audience- teens and young people who struggle with insecurity. They implied that it is all of the rules, regulations, and standards that we see in the world which are causing a sense of low self-esteem and discomfort.
Maybe these statements and messages sound really good to you on the surface. There are many movements going on right now around the world that are based on empowerment. There are many movements that are needed and beneficial which are based on empowerment. I agree that we need gender equality and that the acts of racism that still take place should still be addressed. I will even go as far as to say that I believe all people of all sexual orientations deserve equal rights in our countries. I believe in freedom of choice, but I do not believe in freedom from rules.
Even though society has attached a negative connotation to anything and everything that "controls" us, we must face the facts. Our world is a place of order. Scientists can vouch for me on this one. Biology shows an immense amount of structure, detail, and design. Physics is another wonderful example. Imagine where we would be if we were able to get rid of the "laws" of gravity!
If science isn't your thing, let's talk about economics or finances. What would happen if your boss decided to pay your co-worker twice as much as you earned for the same amount and quality of work? What if you went to the store to buy groceries and the person in front of you only had to pay 5 cents for their banana but you had to pay $10.00 for yours. How about when tax season rolled around? Your neighbor didn't have to pay any property taxes but you still had to pay yours.
How about our transportation systems. Imagine what would happen if cars decided to just drive on whatever side of the road they wanted, going as fast as they wanted, and paying no attention to the traffic lights. I live in Atlanta where traffic is bad enough! There is no way we would get anything done without road signs and regulations. Imagine if buses ignored their routes, skipping some stops and going to others whenever they "felt" like it.
What about in relation to food? Imagine you were in line to order your food at Taco Bell and people kept cutting in front of you. Or what if you finally got your order placed, and when it came out someone else took it and began to eat it.
Just take a moment and let all of that hypothetical stuff sink in. We think we live in a miserable world right now... but imagine what that world would be like.
Even though we have all these ridiculously obvious examples of a need for order and guidelines, Social Media Influencers and Content Creators are going online and telling millions of people that if you want to be happy, just live your life however you want. Make yourself comfortable. It sounds nice, but it just isn't true. We were not made to live for ourselves... we were made to live for God.
People love to take this same approach with the idea of self-care. Somehow in recent years, self-care has become a code word for "living without a conscience." I'm not talking about bubble baths and massages. I'm talking about binge eating and getting drunk. I'm talking about choosing to ignore any sort of positive criticism that can help me become a better person. We use phrases such as "body positive" or "equality" to show how accepting we are of anything and everything. But are we truly promoting positivity by doing so?
I've already covered the topic of pride in a previous post which I will link here. In this post, I want to focus more on discipline. I'm not talking about punishment or the things teachers and parents do when you go against their wishes, I'm talking about an activity or experience that provides mental or physical training. I'm talking about people such as athletes who train for a competition. When we see them compete we say, "Wow! He was really disciplined!" I'm talking about shows such as "The Biggest Loser" which showcase people who are able to lose incredible amounts of weight- often well over 100 lbs. That takes so much discipline!
The things that hold us back, limit us, or keep us from total control of our lives are not always negative. Often they are necessary. Instead of running away from hardship, we must learn to embrace it. Just because something is easy doesn't mean it is the right decision. It is a lot easier for me to stay home and sleep all day than it is for me to go to work. It is a lot easier for me to stop cleaning the house than it is for me to clean it. It is a lot easier for me to say I love God than for me to actually read the Bible. We must re-establish a desire and an appreciation for going through and handling hard things.
As a Christian, I was immediately drawn to scripture as I began to contemplate the value of self-discipline. Here is what I found:
2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.
Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.
Titus 1:7-8 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
Hebrews 12:9-11 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
1 Corinthians 9:25-28 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
These verses are very bold. They use strong language such as calling someone "stupid" and telling us our body is our "slave". Do not let the harsh wording distract you from the message. These verses tell me that I must embrace correction and strive to overcome my challenges.
What do you believe about your purpose here on earth? Do you feel like you are here merely to have a good time and make YOLO (you only live once) your personal anthem? There was a time in my life when that was all I wanted to do. I didn't have any interest in self-sacrifice or pain. All I cared about was finding relief from my problems. I fell for the lies of the world which told me the best way to get away from my problems was to ignore them. The best way to silence my conscience was to drop my morals. But you know what? It didn't work for me. No matter how many exceptions I made for myself I was still miserable.
It wasn't until I started living my life for Christ, that I found inner peace and satisfaction. I have had conversations with people who really hate that sentence. They tell me that they could never serve or believe in a God who would rule over them and "squash" them if they went against Him. They shared quotes with me from the Old Testament. They had countless examples of God killing people or punishing people... but they misunderstood. That is not what God is about. God doesn't allow us to suffer for no reason. He knew those people were so full of pride, selfishness, and evil that they and the people around them, would be more miserable continuing to live than they would be dying. The problem with going against the Bible or the laws of nature which we see in the world isn't actually about God's happiness, it is about ours.
It is not a coincidence that the guidance of the Bible and people's natural inclination towards morales often overlap. Even people who do not believe in God have a desire for structure and guidelines. They have a natural inclination towards some sort of law. In my opinion, you cannot separate God and the Earth. You cannot separate God and humanity. We are all intertwined. It is hard, really impossible for us to maintain the standards of God because of our sinfulness. So God has given us the ability to develop a life of discipline. He gives us enough strength to say, "I don't understand this trial, but I know I can push through it." We suffer now so that we can "do whatever we want" later. Some day when our desires are finally fully aligned with God's we will experience true freedom in Heaven.
What are you wrestling with? There is a popular song going around right now called, "Way Maker". If you are facing loneliness, depression, anxiety, divorce, death, loss, sickness, abuse, identity crisis... any of it- this song is worth a listen. I have shared the lyrics below. I hope it may bless you as much as it blesses me. We are never alone, we face hardships but God will carry us through.
Listen now: https://tinyurl.com/rkcy6by
You are here Moving in our midst I worship you I worship you You are here Working in this place I worship you I worship you You are here Moving in our midst I worship you I worship you You are here Working in this place I worship you I worship you Way maker Miracle worker Promise keeper Light in the darkness My God That is who you are Way maker Miracle worker Promise keeper Light in the darkness My God That is who you are You are here Touching every heart I worship you I worship you You are here Healing every heart I worship you I worship you You are here Turning lives around I worship you I worship you You are here Mending every heart I worship you I worship you Way maker Miracle worker Promise keeper Light in the darkness That is who you are Way maker Miracle worker Promise keeper Light in the darkness My God That is who you are You wipe away all tears You mend the broken heart You're the answer to it all Jesus You wipe away all tears You mend the broken heart You're the answer to it all (to it all) Jesus Way maker Miracle worker Promise keeper Light in the darkness My God That is who you are Way maker Miracle worker Promise keeper Light in the darkness My God That is who you are You are here Touching every life I worship you I worship you You are here Meeting every need I worship you I worship you