Jesus rarely gives his followers rules. He usually gives them commands rather than rules, because rules, as you’ll notice if you study law, often lead to many gray areas. Commands, however, do not. There is no gray area when someone says “Paint that statue with this green paint.”
Any artist who is qualified to paint a statue will have very few questions about what he or she is to do next. The artist isn’t going to say “But isn’t saying paint that statue with this green paint the same as saying paint that statue with that blue paint?” No, that’s not going to happen.
That’s why many Christians don’t believe in the practice of legalisms. Legalisms in Christianity are the gray areas in scripture that aren’t quite clear, and, most likely, those gray areas are rather petty and don’t amount to anything in the grand scheme of what Jesus wants his people to do with their lives.
An example of a legalism in Christianity is this: Christians shouldn’t watch horror movies. In all fairness, some adults are perfectly capable of enjoying the thrill that comes with a horror movie without having it effect their spirits in any negative way. In fact, it just may have the opposite effect on them as it gets them to pray more as they lay awake at night waiting for the monster they just saw in the movie to come get them. At any rate, with legalisms, you be the judge. Are you capable of watching a horror movie and being okay? Can your children watch them? You decide! A horror movie may or may not be the difference in giving someone the opportunity to find salvation.
Commands on the other hand are very clear. Like telling someone to paint that statue with this paint, Jesus’ commands are just as simple. His commands, as well, include a goal and tools to accomplish the goal with. His goal, however, is different than painting. Jesus’ goal is to save people from eternal separation with God, and the tools he uses are just as simple. He uses himself and love.
The sum of Jesus’ glory is that the Father sent him to save the sinner with his love, and we as his followers need to do the same thing. We need to save people with our love. As Christians, we need to love each other so that we are examples of the love that Jesus gave while dying on the cross.
Jesus says in John “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
If we don’t follow Jesus’ commands, will people be saved? Well, if we don’t pick up that can of green paint and paint the statue, will the statue get painted?