We live in a chaotic world. New or different information, data, and images are coming at us every time we look up. Life as we know it appears to be more like a sea struggling with a storm than traditional dry land. In this context, I find guidelines helpful! It is good to know what others think I should be doing. Explicit instructions never work because the specifics of the context keep shifting. Broad parameters that help me assess the situation and know how to approach the solution are helpful guides.
For many, myself included, the line between explicit and general is hard to find. There are several contributors to this perspective.
One fears for outcomes. As one understands the connections in one’s life between the yesterday and the present, one develops a view on the links themselves. This awareness often leads to a view on what others should consider.
One wants to control. With experience, the best of intentions hope for the best in life for others. This hope often morphs into a desire for control. What begins as a well-intentioned gift morphs into something quite different.
One is verbalizing for others what one is hoping s/he will remember. People and organizations advertise their weaknesses. We are most strident about the things in our life we most fear.
It is easy to forget that as responsible as we are for ourselves, help is always a good thing. Guidelines are never an excuse for letting others exercise our freedom. They are gifts. When someone says that we should “never go to these idol-tainted meals if there’s any chance it will trip up one of your brothers or sisters” (1 Corinthians 8.13), it is good advice. We should hear it for what it is, knowing that it may not be a perfect fit.
Life is never just you, me. We are part of an unending dream and community. Embracing the gifts of others while remaining in control of our freedom will open fresh opportunities. We need to hear while taking the lead with Divinity in our lives.