Rules can crush a person. But they are not meant to be crushing. Yes, I know that there are rules for driving your car, chewing your food, and operating a chainsaw. These are good rules. But the rules I am referring to are those imposed by religion. Religion will tell you that if you do a long list of impossible things then you will become righteous and have eternal life. All religions teach this very thing. But Christ turned this teaching on its head when he said, Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). The religion of Jesus day was filled with impossible demands that the religious leaders of the day imposed on the people. Numerous books were written with guidelines for spiritual living. They covered nearly every area of life. The people who wrote the books and the people who read the books all thought they were pleasing God by following the rules of man. But Jesus accused them of not practicing what they preach. They were guilty of tying up heavy loads and putting them on mens shoulders, though they were not willing to live under those same rules themselves. In a word, they were crushing the lives of people. Religions do the same thing today. But man is not capable of living up to the demands we put on ourselves, let alone the demands others may place on us. That is why Christ offered a better way. He is the one who lifted all the burdens off our shoulders, by dying on a cross for our sins, thus ensuring we could have salvation for our souls. He lived the life we could not live, so we could enjoy a future we did not deserve. Placing ourselves under religious rules will not enable us to gain anything in the way of Gods favor, but rather a headache from repeated failures. If you are trying to earn salvation by following the rules abandon the idea and put your faith in Christ. If you are a Christian who is imposing your rules on others so that they will conform to the way you want them to live, put an end to that kind of sin as well. You are making demands that you cannot even fulfill. And besides, if our salvation is based on Jesus Christ alone, what do you possible expect to gain out of obedience to a list of rules? There is real freedom in Christ. Not freedom to live as we please, but freedom now to serve and honor him. There is freedom to live a life as servants of God. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God (1 Peter 2:16). Abandon the hope of earning heaven through obedience to rules. Rev. Nathan Dick is pastor of the Community Baptist Church of Waltham, Vt.