Throughout the history of warfare, boundaries have served a vital role, not only toward achieving victory, but also for ensuring the safety of friendly troops and non-combatants. I vividly recall a day in Vietnam when my infantry platoon had to medevac civilians who had unwittingly trespassed into a free fire zone. Through rules of engagement established between our military and local officials, villagers had been warned not to cross the boundary designated as a combat zone. They were dressed in black pajama type outfits and were carrying long sticks that looked like weapons from the air. What a needless tragedy! It’s doubtful that any of the people we flew to the hospital in Danang survived.
Survival in spiritual warfare necessitates boundaries as well. Not a day passes that many warriors on the spiritual battlefield become casualties, some wounded and some unto death. Why? Failure to adhere to the boundaries God has established.
Have you ever stopped to think about the importance of boundaries? No exaggeration—life without boundaries would be utter chaos.
Today’s article is the first of several writings aimed at addressing the topic of boundaries. The first several will examine the importance of boundaries in various areas of our personal lives. Later, I’ll examine boundaries at the societal and cultural level. Finally, this discussion of boundaries will conclude with a look at the role of boundaries at the national and international level. All writing will attempt to capture truth about boundaries through a Christian worldview.
Boundaries Are God’s Creation
In the biblical account of creation, God established boundaries. He created the heavens and the earth. He created light separate from darkness, day distinctive from night. He divided the land from the sea. And in his crowning act, He created Man and placed him above and in charge of his creation called earth.
If boundaries have purpose ordained by our Creator, why is our world in such a state of confusion? Why so much hatred and disunity among individuals and nations? What’s happening in so many areas of society here in America—serious crime, addictions, suicide, joblessness, identity issues, and widespread poverty to name just a few.
Answer? In many respects it’s about boundaries. At the personal level, it’s about people failing to set boundaries, follow boundaries, or failure to set the right kinds of boundaries. In other cases, it relates to refusal to honor the boundaries of others. At the national and international level, the behaviors regarding boundaries are similar but carried out at the macro level.
The Bible provides God’s wisdom about boundaries as they pertain to both the physical and spiritual realm. This wisdom encompasses guidance for every area of your life through God’s established boundaries. God’s Word not only identifies His boundaries for our lives, but also clearly states the consequences of obedience or disobedience with respect to those boundaries. As human beings, we must choose our response to God’s boundaries. We are free to choose, but we’re not free from the consequences of our choices. This is perfectly illustrated through the account of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 3:15-17)
Adam and Eve disobeyed and died spiritually as the result. Since that time mankind has been under the curse of the Fall. Thankfully, Jesus came as our Savior and faith in Him restores us back into right relationship with the Lord, both now and in eternity.
But the challenge regarding boundaries remains. Christians must know, understand, and stay within the boundaries that God has set forth in His Word. Over the years I’ve counseled thousands seeking help to live better lives. I haven’t found that most folks fail to understand the Bible and what God wants them to do. Rather, they understand all too well and simply don’t have the desire, willpower, or strength to do what God’s Word tells them to do.
Next week we will discuss our attitudes towards boundaries and way they can be positive in our lives.