My friend once told me about a pasture theory of Christianity.
We have a fence to stay within, guidelines to follow and a plan for our lives. However, it's not all or nothing. We have room to move and room to be ourselves. We can choose where to go, just within certain boundaries.
Many people see Christianity as a path, where one step can lead you off into the darkness. I like the pasture way of looking at things much more.
However, human nature makes us not want to stay within even a pasture. Actually, it's more than human nature; it's earthly nature.
On my way to work yesterday, I saw a trio of cows that had gotten out of the field they were supposed to be scavenging in. Another was pushing its head against the fence, trying to figure out how those cows got out.
The space outside the fence looked good to the cows. However, outside the fence the cows were in danger of getting hit by a car or never finding their way home. Even if they didn't get hurt, those cows definitely could have hurt someone else, because a car that hits a cow gets major damage and a driver can be seriously injured. It's a lot like when we leave the pasture we're supposed to be in, getting outside of God's will for our lives.
Even when an animal doesn't quite get out of its pasture, their life still isn't as good as it could be. Sometimes horses stick their heads through fence slats to grab some grass outside their home, but they can get a nasty crick in their neck doing it. A cow or a horse could even get half its body out of the fence and decide that it was far enough. It might seem freeing to be outside the fence a little bit, but they will get stuck there and not be able to move about at all.
The grass may always seem greener on the other side of the fence, but the farmer who put up the fence did it for the good of his animals.