Michael Boling – “House Rules”


I recently completed a Netflix binge watching journey through all 8 seasons of the medical drama called House, M.D. I am not quite sure what drew me into watching this program. Perhaps it was the allure of the drama itself, specifically the medical aspects of the show. Maybe it was also the fun of watching Dr. Gregory House and his team of diagnosticians solve the mystery of why their patient was suffering from whatever malady all other doctors were unable to cure.

One thing is certain about Dr. House. He plays by his own set of rules, both medically and personally. His excuse for playing by a fast and loose standard of medical guidelines is so that he can solve the medical puzzle. Whatever it takes to solve that puzzle is the road he will go down often regardless to the consequences of those around him. His personal rule set is rooted in his belief there is no God. When patients and families of those patients referred to faith or a belief in a higher power to cure them or to give them strength, such a belief was viewed with scorn by Dr. House. It seems this personal struggle with God led to his lack of bedside manner, let alone his difficult relationships with co-workers, friends, and family.

As I reflected on this 8 season adventure, I was reminded of the reality that as believers, we have a set of “House Rules” to abide by, ones provided to us by God in His Word. While Dr. House played by his own personally established “House Rules”, they were just that, something he created for his own use based on his perspective there is no God. If there is no God, there is no standard of behavior, no loving God and others that defines how you live.

We often try and live by our own “House Rules”. Even believers, those who declare they have a relationship with God, often reject the established rules of living provided by God. We seek our own path because for some strange reason we believe we can figure out the puzzle of life better than God. This was the pretense of Dr. House in his exploration of the weekly medical puzzle. His method seemed to work so he was allowed by the hospital leadership to lead a personally destructive lifestyle regardless of how it impacted the hospital or the general working environment. He saved lives so the “House Rules” were allowed.

How many times do we fall prey to that same perspective on life? Surely Scripture cannot be applicable to what we are going through today? Does God really mind if I forge just a little small footpath that diverts just a tiny bit from the straight and narrow? I will get back on the right path in just a bit, but if I take this shortcut, I can do something good for myself or someone else. Sounds familiar right? It is Dr. House rule set and not the God’s house rules that drive such a thought process.

Being a child of God means by definition that the Father has given us His rules for behavior. We can kick against them all we want, but disobedience to those rules never brings about a good end. It may seem like a good result was had, but the result is noted in Scripture as the path to destruction and wickedness. We may think we know better as to how to live our lives, but we really do not. God, as the Father, knows what is best for His children. This is why He has established His “House Rules”.

Scripture repeatedly declares that if we love God, we will keep His commands, His “House Rules”. If we say we love the Father, as His children we will be obedient to that which He has declared are the boundaries by which we are to live. Those boundaries are the very definition of what it means to love God and our neighbor. Stray outside those fence posts and we enter the realm of rebellion and ego driven actions, the world where Dr. House resides.

Which set of “House Rules” are you living by? Are they the ones adhered to by Dr. House, namely the do whatever I want and whatever it takes to save the patient despite the reckless and feckless nature by which those actions take place? Or are they the rules God has established which truly save and which truly provide safety, comfort, and healing? I trust as a child of God it is the latter. While the “House Rules” of Dr. Gregory House may make for some interesting television watching, ultimately they are not the rules we as the people of God are called to live by or embrace.

The law of God is perfect, restoring the soul. God’s “House Rules” give life and they are a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Why? Because as the Great Physician, God knows what is good for His people and He is a much better diagnostician of the human heart than Dr. Gregory House.

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