Tom Pittman's WebLog

2012 June 7 -- Getting with the Program

My friend goes to a big-city mega-church, where they invite any and all (typically members, but he tells me they don't insist on it) to offer up short devotional readings for posting on the church website. He didn't say, but I suspect they carefully filter and/or edit the contributions for compliance to orthodox Relationshipism, because every one he has sent me so far could have been written by a pastor. Anyway, the one he sent me this week is supposed to be about Psalm 119, but mostly it's a reaction to the Psalmist's emphasis on God's word ("Law"). From the first paragraph:
Who loves laws? We roll our eyes when a new procedure comes down from corporate. We willfully ignore the speed limit, but dare not go more than ten miles per hour over because "that would be wrong." We skim over the terms and conditions of a product and sign in agreement, just to be consumed with Hulk-like rage when we are held to that agreement. Why is this? It's because we hate the law!
It got me to thinking. I know several people, "Christians" all of them, who have this attitude towards law. We are a nation of anarchists, rejecting all authority whenever possible, and the Christians seem to be infected by the same virus as the pagans. God expects better of us. I think that rebellious spirit lurks deep within me too, but I do try harder than most people I know. I read the long fine print, annoying the person waiting on me to sign the document. I obey the traffic laws, much to the frustration of the drivers behind me. I got fired for adhering too carefully to the "new procedure [that came] down from corporate." That was at a "Christian" college.

What is it with Christians and the law -- especially speed limits? Does God's command to "submit to those who are in authority" not apply to traffic cops? My friend in Texas once told me that the speed limits there are only "suggestions". Is that true, or can a cop (perhaps in a foul mood) actually give you a ticket for driving +8 miles over the limit? If you went to court, would you fight it, even if you knew you were actually going faster than he wrote you up for? Bringing in expert witnesses to prove that the police radar is unreliable is effectively lying about your speed. God told us there will be no liars in Heaven; are the people exempted who deny what their own instruments say? What if the speed limit in Heaven is 15mph, would you drive that slow? If you don't like doing it here, what makes you think you will like it any better in Heaven?

I suspect the real issue is that we often think we know better what is the appropriate speed to be driving, than the city council or state legislature who set up the limits. That would be the sin of Pride. We are in a hurry to get to our destination, and the limit is holding us back. Why is that a problem? "We must obey God rather than man," the Bible informs us, but God generally does not command us to exceed the speed limit. God tells us to submit. With very few exceptions, they are good laws, and obeying them is obeying God. Why are you in such a hurry? Did God make a mistake in your day by giving you only 24 hours? Did God err by giving you more things to do than you have time to do them in? Or -- this would be Pride again -- have we taken on, of our own free choice, more than God has enabled us to do in a lawful and virtuous manner? I did a lot of that when I was younger; now I'm trying to accept the limits God gave me. It's a whole different perspective.


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