And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it. (Matt. 23:22)

In youth group, my friends and I tried our best to live lives that were pleasing to God. As teenagers this meant, for the most part, changing our language. We tried to find every way to express our frustration without cursing. We used some creative phrases, that is for sure. However, the biggest expression we ended up using was “Oh my God.” At the time this seemed like the better alternative. However, we were still doing something that hindered our relationship with God.

When Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees in Matthew, the heart of that message was this: They didn’t engage in a real relationship with God, and the very rules they had set in place caused them to miss the point. They had set boundaries for themselves to avoid offending God but they missed his heart. They missed the deep relationship he longed to have with them. So in the end, God’s heart broke anyway.

That is exactly what my friends and I were doing. We had set these guidelines in place so that we looked like what we thought God desired. We missed the point. God wanted us to embrace a relationship with him and all these “guidelines” would then fall into place out of love for him. We didn’t have to force them to happen. We still don’t.

Choose relationship over rules by reaching out to God.

Callie Kemmerer is a wife, fur mama, alumni of Kingswood University, and lover of Jesus who is striving after God’s heart and will each day.

© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.