A suburban home in Australia is shrinking in land size even though the average house size is headed in the opposite direction. What hasn’t changed is fencing around the block of land in order to separate it from a neighbour’s property. Broken fences, overgrown hedges and pets jumping fences are a known source of conflicts. We value our privacy. Those fences are boundaries. To go over them without permission will be trespassing. Renting, owning or owned outright – our home is our safe haven. When we chat with neighbours across the fence, there is a sense of security that comes with standing on our own patch of land. A little piece of Australia over which we have custody, albeit temporal.
The home also has compartments. The garage, bedrooms, living areas, bathrooms and toilets all have boundaries with an access door. Some rooms have locks that demand a knock before one opens it. You say this is not rocket science, I know. A house protects us from the physical elements of the environment. It serves as a sanctuary to relax, rest and reconnect with the most important relationships in life. It can be argued that rest, relaxation and reconnecting is, sadly, not everyone’s experience of a home. However, most people will agree that a home should be a safe sanctuary where occupants are free. Free to be who they are, again, within agreed boundaries. And thankfully, the majority of suburban homes continue to remain a safe sanctuary that allows members of the household to grow and flourish as they learn to serve one another.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love.
Galatians 5:13 NIV
By nature, boundaries are restrictive yet freeing. It provides security for the individual, family and community. Lack of boundaries may initially present as freedom. However, when boundaries are not set in place and observed early enough the consequences could be dire. Lack of boundaries can lead to chaos, insecurity and suffering. In the story of the lost son in Luke 15:11- 32, the younger son was eager to break free of his father’s oversight. He demanded his share of the inheritance and departed to live it up in a far away land. His boundary-less indulgence resulted in him desiring the same food the pigs he was hired to feed, ate.
So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
Luke 15:15-16 NIV
Think of living without appropriate boundaries. When the reality of a world that is not centred around us, strikes, the blame game begins. Lack of personal responsibility results in brushes with the law. Unfortunately, the common way the law enforcement authority applies boundaries is by restriction of freedom in the form of penalties or jail time. Succumbing to every wish or instinct we may have without consideration of the consequences on ourselves, and others is a recipe for all kinds of pain.
“Boundaries are to protect life, not to limit pleasure” – Edwin Louise Cole
In the case of the younger son in Luke 15, he came to his sense and was humble enough to realise he needed to return home, offering to be treated not as a son but a hired hand – an indication of how appreciative he was of the privileges the boundaries his father’s household provided.
When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants”.
Luke 15:17-18 NIV
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1 NIV
When boundaries are appropriate, we grow, flourish and engage in respectful relationships. This brings pleasure to God our father, for in choosing to serve others, we serve Him. When we ignore boundaries in pursuit of our self-desires and passions, we hurt not only ourselves and others, but also God who made us in his image.
Take some time today to reflect on areas of your life where freedom has caused you to indulge the flesh. Perhaps it’s time to put up some fencing…
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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