February 10, 2012
I am not a good driver. I have never claimed to be a good driver. I don’t enjoy driving. People don’t really want to ride with me, because I make them nervous. It has been said that I am a terrible driver; which I suppose could be true. However, I have only had one actual wreck in my life, and I have only had 2 traffic tickets. Both pretty good numbers when you figure I have been driving for well over 30 years.
I follow the traffic laws, for the most part, to the best of my abilities. I am not perfect at keeping the laws. Far from it. You can ask my mother-in-law who was with me a couple of years back when I ran the red light on 57th street crossing the loop; or my kids, who have been with me when I went down a one way- the wrong way. There are a million times a day when I look at my speed and realize that I am over the limit. I can’t count the times over the last year that I have been on my cell phone going through a school zone when I suddenly realized what I was doing. There have been just as many times that I have knowingly driven over the speed limit trying to make it to my destination quicker. I have also knowingly “glided” through a stop sign and even a red light because I did not want to take the time to stop, and I knew no one was coming. I have driven my car with my inspection sticker or my tags out of date. I am not perfect in my ability to keep the traffic laws, nor am I perfect in my desire to keep them. However, my goal when I get behind the wheel is to obey the rules of the land. I think I can say with relative ease that no one has ever been able to keep all of the traffic laws, no matter how hard they try.
My route to work every day takes me by an elementary school. Depending on what time I actually leave my house, the speed limit could range from 25 mph to 30 mph. But it is never over 30! We live in a sub division that is not really “in town”- so it is hard to keep it under 30 on that long stretch of road. But the road we turn onto from it to head “into town” (2305 or Lake Road) is even longer and bigger. The speed limit on it is 50 mph. And I struggle with that as well- most of the time I set my cruise when traveling on 2305.
The other morning when I left my house it was getting close to 9 a.m. and I was trying to hurry, because my granddaughter attends the only day care in the world that “requires” you be there by 9 a.m.!! (I NEVER make it) I had missed the school zone time, but I was still having a hard time keeping my speed limit on 30. I looked in my rear view mirror to see a City Cop behind me and he was closing the distance at a pretty good clip. Now- I have to say that even with the cop behind me, I found it nearly impossible to keep my speed limit right on 30. The officer sped past me and changed lanes (no turn signal) and then took a quick right at the red light on 2305 to head into Temple. He did not come to a complete stop before he made the right hand turn on red, he simply slowed down and went on through the red light.
At first, I was irritated. How dare he, the officer of the law, not OBEY the law? What kind of example was that to me and the other drivers on the road? I mean, I don’t really have a problem with running through red lights, or speeding- but what about the others driving on the highway?
It hit me right then- Police officers do not have the job of showing me the law. Their job is not to keep the laws and serve as perfect examples to the public. (although their goal should be to keep the laws if at all possible) They are here to enforce the law. If I had turned right at the red light without coming to a complete stop, and an officer happened to see me and stop me, I would not be able to explain to him that I thought it might be ok because I had seen the officer right in front of me do the same thing. I am held accountable to the law, and the law enforcer is here to point out when I am not following it.
Was the law enforcement agent above the law? By no means- however, the badge he wears, the gun he carries, and the car he drives gives him a freedom that the rest of us don’t have. However, this freedom also allows the law enforcer to protect the public. For instance: When my son was robbed, I did not want the officers who were headed to the scene of the crime to be controlled by the traffic laws- I wanted them to speed. I did not want them bound by the traffic laws that keep the public from running in chaos! And I trusted they would get there safely and as quickly as possible.
Since that morning I have considered how Christians mimic these relationships and roles in real life.
Many feel like they are law enforcement officers. They are constantly pointing out the way their brothers and sisters are failing to uphold the law- all in the name of love, of course. And yet, they themselves are breaking laws. The thing with this is that is, as my friend Karen says, a fine line…where do God’s laws end and man’s additional laws begin? And scripture tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. I could be wrong, but I don’t see in scripture where “law enforcement” is a gift of the spirit.
And how often, as Believers, do we judge another Believer’s actions (as I did that morning with the police officer)? We see something going on, make a judgement call in our human hearts and then chalk that believer up as being a “bad role model” as a Christian. We determine what type of influence their actions are having on other Christians, and better yet, the rest of the unbelieving world; or even worse- we can attribute their actions to causing us to slip up and break a law. Often that is when we call on the Law Enforcement Christians, or we step into the role of the Law Enforcement Christian; and we attack our Brother or Sister. Again in the wise words of Karen, this is a fine line. We are called to hold each other accountable-in love. And again, scripture tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. And again, I could be wrong, but I don’t recall in scripture where quick judgment of our brother or sister is a gift of the spirit.
And finally, how often as believers are we paralyzed by fear of breaking the very law that was put in place by our own God with the knowledge there was no way a mere human could ever keep it. How often do we spend our lives looking at the speed odometer checking our speed while keeping a close eye on the Law Enforcement Officer who is following us, only to look down and see that once again we have failed, and instead of going 30 mph, we are now heading up to 32! The fear of being caught and disciplined only sends us into panic and we are now living our lives in slow motion, or worse yet, in hiding. Once again- scripture tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:19-24…28…31 “We know that the law’s commands are for those who have the law. This stops all excuses and brings the whole world under God’s judgement, because no one can be made right with God by following the law. The law only shows us our sin. But God has a way to make people right with him without the law, and he has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about. God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same: All have sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory, and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ…A person is made right with God through faith, not through obeying the law…So do we destroy the law by following the way of faith? No! Faith causes us to be what the law truly wants.”
It seems to me that what Paul is saying in Romans makes Karen’s wise words completely true. Walking with Christ is a fine line. It says “faith causes us to be what the law truly wants.” I think that means that the law truly wants us to realize we can never keep it, we can never be good enough...The law wants us to realize we have to have a Savior...we have to have Jesus. I believe that as long as I am walking in faith with Christ, my faith and my life will reflect my driving record in many ways. I will not always do what is right. I will never be really good. I will definitely not be perfect. But as long as I have my sights on my destination and my trust and my faith is in Christ- I am able to face anything! And even though the traveling between points A and B may be rough and a little frightening- I am going to arrive at point B…not on my own terms, but on my Savior’s!