Running Stop Signs
My sixteen year old self would have been very angry with the next statement I am going to make: I now see the need for the police in our lives. One particular morning sometime ago, I was pulled over after I whipped around a corner barely stopping for a stop sign. I looked in my rearview mirror to see him flip around and turn on his lights. I knew I was guilty, so before he had got to my car door I pulled out my license, registration and insurance. I handed him all my driving info and he asked me a simple: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Of course I did. I knew I had done something wrong. I could not deny nor hide what I did. If I was a liar I would have tried to talk my way out of a ticket or if I was a pretty girl I would have used my feminine charms. My other option was I could have feigned ignorance and he would read right through it so I just looked at him and said: Yes sir, I do.
I was in a hurry to get to a job. I cut the corner, ran the sign and went way wide on my turn. I simply had to acknowledge that I had broken the law. More than likely, I would have broken the law that morning and kept going on my way not even giving my actions a second thought, but this particular morning I was forced to see the error of my ways.
Much like God, the police officer judged me rightly. That morning while I sat in my truck waiting for him to return, I was not sure how he was going to judge me. Would this violation of the law be something that would force me to pay a ticket or go to traffic court? The few minutes I was trying to cut off on my driving time would cause me more heartache and financial anguish than it was worth, but I knew whatever he chooses, he would be just in his actions. I could not be angry at him for doing his job.
A few minutes later, he returned and thankfully gave me a warning and asked me not to run stop signs anymore. He explained to me that he patrolled the area everyday and he witnessed people running stop signs all the time. He explained that I could have hit another car or hit bystanders walking by. The minute or two that I was trying to save would not be worth the life of another.
I knew he was right.
That morning made me reflect on my life as a Christian. I admit that I am guilty of cutting corners as a Christian with my walk with God. I often overlook His goodness and generosity and I often take for granted His grace and love. How many sins have I committed in my life to which I felt guilty for and was willing to stand before God and confess? But, the ones that I cut corners on, the sins that I commit and give no second thought to - those are the ones I need to reflect on. Those are the actions in my life that I need to bring to my thoughts. No matter what sins I commit, willingly or unwillingly, known and unknown - I caused pain to my Savior. On the day of His crucifixion I played my part in nailing Him to the cross. How often have I broken the laws of God in my life just to save time?
Many of the traffic laws seem trivial at times, but the truth be told, all are in place for a reason. Probably, because someone at one time died while crossing the street or going too fast. Someone had to sacrifice their life for us to have safety in ours.
Let’s take the stop sign for instance. It is designed to get you to look both ways before crossing and intersection or when turning onto another street for others safety as-well-as yours. The use of turn signals, the needs for brake lights or head lights and the speed limit - all of those things are have a law around them that say we need them and all are designed to keep everyone safe. If we respect the law, we will not be punished by our own actions. As I said, when I was sixteen, I would get angry at the police for pulling me over (or, as I saw it, harassing me), but really were they stopping me for no reason? Did I get pulled over that morning because I was innocent?
The same exact principles are instilled in us by God. He originally gave mankind a set of guiding precepts called the Ten Commandments. The first four were to guide us in our relationship with God Himself, the last six were our guide to our relationship with others and when you broke those commandments the people were judged and punished accordingly. But the laws, just as traffic laws really were common sense. Each law was something that should have been followed, but God had to give mankind something in writing for us to be able to live by. God had to instruct us that stealing, killing and adultery were wrong as if we could not have figured that out on our own. But being stupid humans, we had to have instruction and the law was instilled.
Then again, as stupid humans, the people found loopholes in the law and God was forced to break down the commandments into subheadings for specific instances. When God said not to kill, he really meant DO NOT KILL. When He said, do not commit adultery - HE MEANT IT! I often have heard the expression the Ten Commandment are not the TEN Suggestions! And the best part of following the commandments are that we will be blessed, we will be on the path of salvation - but, in truth, the Ten Commandments are but a small fraction of the whole path of righteousness.
Eventually the people used the laws to further themselves. The Pharisees and Saducees of Christ’s time, (as-well-as modern day bishops and leaders of the church), used the laws of God as weapons to enslave the people, while they themselves did not follow them. The people began to use and manipulate the laws of God to make money and to make themselves glorious before those who were less learned. They corrupted themselves in such a way that God was forced to send His Son to save us from ourselves. And still, the people used the laws to crucify the Prince of Peace. During His time on Earth, He fulfilled what the heart of the law was meant to be, and what He and His Father’s original intent of the law was - TO LOVE!
The commandments were summed up into two: To love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and your entire mind and the second was to love your neighbor as yourselves. Truly both laws were one in the same, for to love your neighbor is to love God. Jesus taught us the error of our interpretation of the law and how far we had corrupted ourselves as human beings.
The same that happened in Christ’s time is the same that happens in today’s society with the churches and with the laws of the land does it not? Do not people use the laws to burden us with political and financial burden? How many churches have you seen today that thrive on wickedness instead of holiness? How many leaders judge others while believing they themselves are just and holy? How many police accept bribes and allow evil to run rampart throughout our cities and towns? It is no stretch of the imagination in today’s society to hear and see corrupt people using the laws to burden the people of God. How many Christians are persecuted today by those who are believed to be lawful attempting to uphold society’s rights? We, Christians, are still persecuted by those people in society who believe what they are doing is saving others from judgment. The fact of the matter is - they are right. Radical Christians have given us Christians a bad reputation. We Christians are constantly in fear of expressing our faith will lead us to some sort of martyrdom with our loss of jobs if we refuse to work on a Sunday or want to keep the commandments posted in our offices. We, Christians, are worried to offend others if we pray in public. I say we need to stand up for our faith and live up to the sacrifice that Christ made for us by living a life worthy of His resurrection. We need to live lives in the love of Christ, with the courage He gave the saints of old to boldly go to their deaths with the expectation of the prize of life eternal.
The truth is that our world is getting worse. Christ predicted wars, famine and bloodshed. He predicted persecution and corruption - so why are we shocked and overwhelmed when it happens? Evil has thrived since the begging of time. Evil thrives when the holy do nothing. But the affairs of this world are not our worry or concern. The only thing we are responsible for is our little part of this world. Our families, our friends and family, our colleagues and those that see us in the grocery store or movie theater. We are to be the light of Christ to our portion of the world. And the only soul we are to worry about is our own. We cannot save anyone - SOMEONE already accomplished saving us ALL!
But, often, our lives get burdened by the sin and temptation that this world had to offer. We end up failing our God and falling to the pressures of the world. We break the laws of man and get punished by those laws. We then break the laws of God and we add to the weight of the crown of thorns. But the heart of each of laws is the same - we need to do what is right. We need to live lives in uprightness and holiness. If I can’t make a simple stop at the sign, then how am I ever going to be able to love the Lord my God? We are to follow the laws of the land unless it opposes God’s laws. We as Christians need to be the city on the hillside. We Christians need to be the lights of the world.