By The Rev. Tony Marciano
For Memorial Day, my three children, their spouses along with our “grand dogs” (we have three of them) went camping. Remember that rainy weekend? We survived. Actually, we had fun. OK, we had a blast. We played table games. More specifically, we played dominoes.
A few weeks before, my wife and I, along with our son and his wife, played it at our house. My son is a rules person when it comes to table games. He read the rules. I objected. After all, we had been playing dominoes for years. The real rules and our rules were different. I preferred our rules; it was more fun. Fast forward to the camping trip and my son insisted on reading the rules. We learned that when you have a double, you must make it into a “chicken foot” that is, you must put dominoes on all three points. It looks like a chicken foot. If you can’t satisfy it, you pick up from the domino “boneyard.” We also found out there were other rules we weren’t following. I reminded my kids that in the game of Monopoly, if you land on “Go”, you receive $500. Anthony pointed out there was nothing in the rules that said that. I acknowledged he was correct. However, where I grew up and the way we played the game, you got $500 for landing on “Go.” More belly laughs and more protests. I found myself having to play dominoes by the rules. Sometimes it was fun. But there were moments when I just wanted to play by our rules. I knew them best. Even if they were wrong, I knew them.
I remember being in fifth grade and playing kick ball. Someone told me you never kick the first pitch that comes to you. I believed them and ignored a perfect pitch. All the jocks yelled at me. I couldn’t understand why they were mad. I was following the rules.
Do you remember the test you took in school? It said to write your name on the top of the paper and then told you to read the instructions first before starting the test. We all got ahead of ourselves. Instruction number eight said to stand up and shout, “I am the best at following instructions.” It gave you a sense of superiority. When you read the last instruction, it said to go back to the top, answer number one and put down your pencil. You didn’t follow the instructions.
When my daughter turned 14, the youth leader gave her a handout of the 200 things she could not do as a Christ follower. Today she laughs at that list. If she followed the rules, she would be a “good Christian” (whatever that means).
We like rules. After all, they give us a safe place to hide out. If you obey the rules, you can look down your nose at the person who doesn’t. You are a better rule follower.
I think that God likes to keep things simple. If he were writing the rules for dominoes, it would be; 1) Enjoy your time with the people you love; 2) have fun. That’s it. Two rules. No more. No less.
He gave us only two rules. They are – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
I like the way one pastor says it: “Love God and love others. If you do that, you have a lifetime of things to do.”
I’ll be back soon. Until then, live well my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. Go to www.charlotterescue
mission.org for details.