There are two children. The first has a parent who loves them unconditionally. When this child does not desire to listen to their parent and instead does as he/she wants, the parent corrects the child. With great wisdom the parent knows that the child can not be allowed to do everything he/she may desire. The parent has the understanding that in order to keep the child from harming or hindering themselves or others, certain restriction must be in place. When the child chooses to disobey instead of heed the rules the parent has put in place, the loving parent corrects the child and disciplines them in an appropriate way.
The second child also has a parent who loves them unconditionally. However, this child does not have a close relationship with their parent. When the child does something wrong and pushes the boundaries too far, the parent chooses to not correct the child, but allows them to do as they desire. The child must learn the hard way that there are consequences to their choices and at times those consequences can cause life altering changes.
Which parent would you rather have? The one who is attentive to you and even if it's difficult, will correct you when you are wrong or the one who allows you to do all that your heart desires, but also allows you to deal with the consequences of those desires on your own?
As followers of Christ Jesus, we have the parent who is attentive to us, watching our every step. He allows us to make our own decisions, but when those decisions begin to lead us astray and threaten our relationship with Him, our all knowing Father reigns us back in, correcting and disciplining us and giving us greater wisdom for why His laws must be obeyed. Those correction can be difficult and are different for every person, however as you overcome you grow in wisdom, in knowledge, in understanding and in strength.
I am continuously amazed at the life of the Jews of the old testament and how much their life mirrors our lives today. Perhaps life looks different on the outside as we drive cars, fly airplanes, shop at major retailers, but the basics of life, the struggles, the temptations are all the same. The discipline the Lord uses for His people is also the same. There came a time for the Jews, when they continued to fail to listen the God and did as they desired, that God stepped out of the picture and allowed the Jews to do whatever they wished. When He stepped away, He also took away His wisdom, His knowledge, His understanding and His protection. The Jews were left to fend for themselves. It was not that the God stopped loving them, it just that sometimes when there is such great rebelliousness, there is perhaps nothing left to do, but let the rebelliousness play itself out and let the consequences of those actions speak for themselves.
It's the Lord's amazing loves for us and His ability to be the most perfect parent that He corrects and disciplines us. What would we do if He did not? Look around do get a glimpse of what happens. Read through the old testament and see what happens to the Jews when the Lord steps out of the picture and allows them to do all their hearts desired. The Jews were His chosen people. The Lord set them a part and gave them laws, guidelines and rules to follow. Not because He wanted to put restriction on their life and make their life more difficult. Just the opposite. By being the perfect parent and not allowing His children to be rebellious, He was actually allowing them to have more freedom. The Jews did not have to be caught up in the trappings of the world. They were healthier, wealthier and more provided for then everyone around them.
The world and all the desires that come with it are certainly enticing, but when you take a closer look and really see what happens when people live lives that cater to their current whims and desire, are they truly better off? Are they truly happier? Perhaps for a time, perhaps even for a generation, but each step that is taken further from the Lord and His commandments leads to greater consequences. Our society today is a perfect example of this.
When we say that we are followers of Christ Jesus and say that we are Christians, this is not the lite (almost a mockery) title as so many have made it. This is a confession to all to know that we have chosen the Lord and the Bible to be our guide and rule book. We are not left having to try and conform to the ways of the world, instead we are actually free from the boundaries the world would have us restricted by. While the learning process can be an up-hill battle in the beginning as we fight and struggle with obeying the Lord, just as it's hard for a young child to learn that they must be obedient to their parent. There comes a time when we can recognize that, hmmm, these "laws", "rules", "commandments" aren't so difficult and actually when I follow them I am happier, more complete, content and free do to so much more with my life.
Each of us has a choice. Do we want to live our lives the Lord's way or do we want to live by the finicky ways of this earth? It's truly is an excellent question, because it gives you the starting point of which direction you should be heading in and where you should be going for guidance.