Is Christianity just a set of rules?

Many people have the idea that God is just like a universal police officer, giving us an impossible list of things we can and can't do and watching our every move so He can throw the book at us if we mess up.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Christianity is not just a guide to moral living - it is a real and active relationship with Jesus Christ. The eternal consequence of sin is death, separation from God forever; but Jesus took this punishment on Himself for all of humanity (including you) when He paid for our sins with His own life (Romans 6v23).
When Jesus, God's own Son, came to earth He turned the old way of doing things upside down, including the religious leaders' obsession with rules and regulations. One of the religious leaders once asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbour as yourself." (Matthew 22v36-39).

Paul, the first great missionary, said, "The commandments 'Do not commit adultery' , 'Do not murder', 'Do not steal', 'Do not covet', and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: 'love your neighbour as yourself'. Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law." (Romans 13v9-10).
You see Christianity is far from being a complicated set of do's and don'ts. It's about love - love from God, love for God, love for others and for yourself. If you are truly filled with this kind of love, then you will lose the desire to do things that hurt God, others or yourself - Jesus said those that loved Him should keep His commands (this doesn't mean you never do things wrong again, but you lose the desire and learn how to please God and obey Him).
God is love and He wants nothing but the best for us, which means He wants us to be free not trapped. And part of this freedom comes from obeying His commands. How many times have you been trapped by a lie, or overcome by guilt for something you did? Things that God has said we shouldn't do because He knows they will cause harm.
By listening to God and how He wants us t o live our lives, we can avoid the negative consequences of sin. For example, the Bible says that we should not commit adultery. The obvious consequences of adultery include harm to ourselves, our spouses, children and others involved, broken marriages, unwanted pregnancies, the risk of infections, etc., etc. Most of God's commands would therefore be accepted as common-sense standards of living by almost every society because of the negative consequences to all involved when these rules are not observed.
And even when we are tempted, God promises to help us through because of His love for us: "And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand under it." (1 Corinthians 10v13).

So lets get rid of this idea of God as our "universal cop", and start picturing Him as He really is - a loving friend who gave His life so that you could be free from sin. All you have to do is accept Him and love Him and this incredible freedom is yours.