As with a lot of things in life, there is nothing wrong with standards in and of itself.
Our idea of right and wrong, good and bad are based on standards. However those standards come about and whoever maintains, monitors or modifies them, they are there and usually there for good reason.
Therein, however, lies the issue – the nature of the reason for the standard. Parents desire for their children to do well. In that regard they will put in place expectations for them and the children are measured as to the extent they meet those expectations. The reasons behind those expectations, though, need to be checked often so that we are encouraging the best for our children according to who they are, rather than force-fitting them into our framework of what they should be.
That which applies to parents and children, applies well with other rellational dynamics. Businesses would not be successful if they force-fitted their customer into certain frameworks. That’s not to say they influence that fit to a degree – of course they do, it’s their prerogative as a business to do so. Yet their success is founded on the appearance of endeavouring to meet the needs of the customer as identified by the customer.
Unfortunately there are some relational dynamics that still miss this truth by a considerable margin. There have been autocratic regimes that have sought to crush the spirit of its inhabitants with a mindset towards doing what is pleasing to the power. There are tragic tales of people who have been force-fitted to meet some expectation or to hit some standard placed on them that is at best ill-suited and at worst fatal. It could all be avoided if we took the shackles off that have weighed us down for so long.
My view of the Kingdom of God is one of standards – that’s why there are helpful terms like righteousness and holiness. However, I don’t believe those terms and those standards are meant to be about conformity and uniformity. That just plainly does not concur with the vast diversity of humanity reflecting the image of God. Those terms and the heavenly standards displayed in the life and times of Jesus Christ portray a way of being that seeks to restore right relationships between people and God and people and each other to truly liberate them to serve each other with the unique imprint God has placed in them. Exploring that, expressing that, edifying each other with that is the standard to aspire to far greater than any other effort imposed on people for financial gain and the sense of control and power to those who wish to subdue that which God has placed in each individual.
Considering such a Kingdom perspective can at times be at odds with other views – especially prevailing ones in culture today. Acknowledging that and still letting your light shine is one of the great challenges of our day.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden