Every human activity has a set of rules. Rules help us to be successful. Without rules we are doomed to failure.

Take the case of Jimmy, who enjoyed watching games of soccer. He could see how fit and strong the players were, and decided he wanted to be a player, not just a spectator. So, he contacted the coach of the local soccer club, and asked if there was a chance of joining the team. Coach told him to buy his boots, pads, socks and shorts and show up at the clubhouse at 2.00 p.m. next Saturday afternoon. He was promised a tryout sometime during the game.

Jimmy was so excited it never occurred to him that he didn’t know the rules. He thought he did, he’d watched enough games.

Jimmy was given the position of full-back, defending his goal against rival strikers. As one of them approached with the ball, Jimmy deliberately tripped him up. The ref blew his whistle, gave Jimmy a warning, and awarded a free kick to the opposing team. Jimmy wasn’t sure why, but he did have an uneasy feeling in his stomach. The opposing team now had a slight advantage.

A few minutes later as another striker came speeding towards the goal, Jimmy pushed him off the ball. Again, the ref blew his whistle, gave Jimmy another warning, and the rivals another free kick. Jimmy had no idea why this happened, he didn’t know the rules, he thought perhaps the ref just didn’t like him. He did notice a few glances from some of his teammates that weren’t exactly friendly.

Three minutes before half-time, right in front of Jimmy’s goal, a striker took a shot. As the ball was passing Jimmy, he put out his hand and deflected it from its intended destination. The ref blew his whistle. His teammates groaned. The other team was awarded a penalty shot. Jimmy was really upset; he didn’t realize what he had done. But he could sense the increasing hostility from his teammates. Of course, the penalty kicker scored, and Jimmy’s team was down 0 – 1. The coach wasn’t pleased and took Jimmy out of the game.

Here’s another example of what can happen when you don’t know the rules. Pete was tired of living in his town in the middle of the prairie. He wanted something new,

something exciting, an opportunity to make new friends and enjoy new experiences. So, he decided to move to the coast. He sold his house and bought another in a small town close to the sea. He found out that garbage day was the next day, and garbage cans had to be placed by the side of the road in the morning by 7.00 a.m. for pickup.

Now Pete wasn’t an early morning kind of person, so he decided to put out his garbage by the side of the road the night before. In the middle of the night, a bear smelled Pete’s garbage, knocked over the can removing its lid, and scattered garbage all over the road as he tried to find something good to eat.
Next morning, as Pete slept peacefully past seven o’clock, his neighbors were heading off to work, noticing the mess around Pete’s house. Pete didn’t know the rules – you put out your garbage that morning, not the night before. His neighbors were wondering what sort of person had just moved into their community.

Later in the morning Pete saw his garbage strewn across the street and had to clean it all up. While in his front garden he noticed that his lawn needed watering, so he turned on his sprinkler system late that afternoon as the temperature was easing a little. As his neighbors returned home from work, they noticed the new guy was watering his lawn on the wrong day – his house number was even, and he was watering on an odd day.
One of his grumpier neighbors, who was particularly annoyed at the garbage on the street that morning, phoned the by-law officer who came out and gave Pete a fine for watering on the wrong day. Pete didn’t know the rules.

Pete was beginning to notice that his neighbors weren’t all that friendly, so he decided to get a dog for companionship. The first evening the dog was home he wanted to go out, so Pete let him out of the house to do his business. Pete didn’t have a fence, and the dog wandered into his neighbor’s yard and started digging up some of his plants. The neighbor was angry and walked across his front lawn to drive the dog away, stepping into some fresh dog poop. Now the neighbor was really furious, and phoned the city pound, who came and caught Pete’s dog and took him away.

Pete had to go to the pound to get his dog, pay a fine for letting it run around the neighborhood, and another for not having a dog license. Pete was paying heavily for not knowing the rules of the community he had just moved into. Never mind nobody seemed to like him!

So, we see that everything we do is governed by rules – playing card games, ball games, sports, driving cars, paying taxes – everything.
Yet so few of us have a working understanding of the rules for playing the game of life. If we go to church or read widely, we may have come across some of them, often in a random way.