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Bob Tamasy: Finding Freedom Within The Boundaries

  • Sunday, May 19, 2024
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Are you a fan of soccer? I must admit I’m not, even though it’s called “the beautiful game” in many parts of the world. Nevertheless, having had several grandchildren actively involved in soccer, I’ve watched a lot of it. The fact that they’ve been good at the sport has made the watching more enjoyable.

Soccer’s not my cup of tea because there’s too much back-and-forth without tangible results. Kind of reminds me of the party game in which you try to pick up cotton balls with a spoon while blindfolded. You keep scooping, but rarely do you succeed in capturing a cotton ball. That’s how I feel when I watch soccer – or “futbol,” as it’s often called by its devotees.

I find one aspect of the game fascinating, however. It’s the goal. The official dimensions for a soccer goal are 24 feet wide by eight feet high – 192 square feet, or 27,648 square inches. That seems like a large target, but not when you have an agile, athletic goalkeeper standing in the way of each shot on goal. This is why when a player does succeed at scoring, the announcer ecstatically shouts, “Gooooooooooal!”

When player take a shot at the goal with foot or head – no hands allowed – they’re aiming at a 192-square foot target. If they’re able to get the ball past the goalkeeper, anywhere within those boundaries, they and their teammates are entitled to a spontaneous celebration.

For folks like me, matches might be more fun if the goal were 12 feet high and 36 feet wide, but that probably would make scoring too easy – and less suspenseful for avid fans. Still, offensive players do have nearly 200 square feet to work with. Top, bottom, sides, or corners. Doesn’t matter, just as long the goalkeeper can’t stop the ball before it gets within the goal and crosses the goal line.

A similar principle applies for every follower of Jesus Christ. Some people regard the commandments and statutes that serve as the foundation for Christian living as too limiting, too restrictive. However, they actually provide much latitude. For instance, when some asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second it like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40).

In other words, love God as much as you want, as much as you can. And love your neighbor as you would love yourself, as much as you want, as much as you can. That doesn’t sound very limiting or restrictive, does it?

However, in another sense becoming and being a disciple of Christ is unapologetically restrictive. Jesus told a large crowd of people, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

We live in a society in which many folks choose to make their own rules, to live out their own “truth.” They live by the mantra, “If it feels good, do it. Follow your heart.” But feelings are fickle, and the heart is deceptive. In fact, the Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

So, the “wide gate” and “broad road” may seem like the right route to follow – until you discover too late there’s a huge sink hole in the middle of it and you tumble in.

We hear a lot about freedom these days, but what people often have in mind instead is license – doing whatever you want, no questions asked. That’s not freedom; that’s anarchy and rebellion. The Scriptures teach that God designed us and knows what’s best for us. This is why some of His commands are “do,” and others are “don’t.”

Within the parameters of the Lord’s sovereign and moral will He gives us great latitude. Like a soccer goal, anything within it is good. It allows for love, joy, fulfillment, meaning, and most of all, an eternal relationship with our loving, merciful, gracious and forgiving God. Anything pursued outside of that, however, leads to destruction.

As with soccer, we might not like all the rules. We’d like to change them or do away with them altogether. But God’s statutes and standards are perfectly designed for His purposes – and for our good.

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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