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House Rules

Click here to read Acts 6 on BibleGateway.com

monopolyDo you know what the best selling board game in the world is?  No, not the Farming Game, though it should be (seriously, if you haven’t played it, go buy it today).  No big shocker: it’s Monopoly, with 275 million copies of the game sold in 110 countries and 40 languages. Nothing better than winning a game by driving the opposition into a steaming pile of bankruptcy.

One reason: the concept of House Rules is built into Monopoly.  If you’re unfamiliar with house rules, this is the idea that whoever’s home you happen to be playing at has the right to change the rules in such a way as to guarantee their win.  Oh sure, they say it’s fair, yet somehow you always lose at Jimmy Jo Jo’s house, what with their special 10,000 dollar bill that you get for every J in your name.  ( That’s right, some things you don’t forget, Jimmy.  Here’s a J for you, Jerk.)

The reason we tend to hate house rules (at least, other people’s house rules. ours are ok. ) is that they seem so unfair.  If we’re all going to play the game, we should all be playing by the same rules. But house rules make it seem like we can’t win, no matter what we do. Might as well just go home and play Tetris.


Unfortunately, we often try to carry of our idea of “fairness” into the way we as Christians interact with the world.  We feel that if we share the truth in love, then people will see the way and come to Christ.  However, if you talk to anyone who has tried this method (or just read about Paul in the New Testament), at some point most people come to the realization that you can’t (or very, very rarely can) argue someone into the Kingdom.

Why not? In Acts 6, we read of one of the early confrontations between the followers of the Way (the early Christians) and the opposition.  In many ways, it’s very indicative of witnessing debates throughout history.  Stephen is arguing with some non-believers, and the Bible says “but they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him.”  Case closed, right? Stephen wins the debate, the others admit the truth of Christ, and get saved.

Not even close.  Instead, “they secretly persuaded some men to say, ‘We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’” Since they couldn’t out-debate Stephen, they simply lied.  And if you know the rest of the story, you’ll know that it worked and poor Stephen had a scant few moments to reconsider his evangelistic methodology. When people don’t want to hear the truth, they’ll find a way to silence it.


Sound unfair?  It is, but is it really so surprising that the Enemy of all that is Good and Right does not play fairly? It would be more surprising if he played by any rules at all.  The foundation of sin itself is based in the idea of not following the rules.  People who are opposed to Christ will not play fairly, and we should not expect them to.   Paul concludes, after several frustrating attempts, to preach one thing: Christ and Christ alone.

Our attempts to reach the world for Jesus must always come back to this central point.  It’s easy to get distracted with “winning” debates, getting our candidate elected, or promoting a certain viewpoint.  But we need to remember that only Christ will ultimately save people, and winning a debate does not mean that people will come to Christ.  Only a life-changing encounter with the Living Lord can do that.

That’s the only rule that matters.

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