You may have heard on the news that this past week was officially known as “Take Back Our Highways” week in the state of Alabama. State troopers and other police agencies committed to an increased presence on our highways for the purpose of increasing traffic safety. Through Wednesday (3 Days), there were over 10,000 offenses that were ticketed. Over those three days: 8,115 tickets were issued for speeding; 449 for following too closely; 156 for improper lane changes; 3,000 for no seatbelt or improper child restraint. Additionally, 55 DUI arrests were made.
Regrettably, many of us have an attitude toward Christianity much like we do about posted speed limits and other traffic laws. Notice some unfortunate similarities between the two:
We are too concerned with “how far we can go” and still not get in trouble. We all like to know how much over the speed limit we can drive and still not get ticketed. Yet, this attitude flies right in the face of the words “speed limit.” Technically, it is as fast as we can drive without citation. As Christians, we get caught up with “how far can we go” and still not sin. No matter the issue (dancing, drinking, gambling, etc.), asking that very question displays a misunderstanding of our calling to be completely pure (2 Tim. 2:22).
We forget boundaries are in place for our well-being. God has revealed His will about expectations of the Christian life not to hinder us from living a fun life, but to take care of us. Our naivety as children causes us to think that a red stove eye looks fun to touch; a loving parental eye corrects us for getting close to it. The purpose is not to keep the child from having freedom, but to watch out for him or her. Likewise, we forget that God has told us to be pure and holy because that life is the best life to live. A life that is dependent upon sin will not last easily in this life or the one to come.
Playing favorites damages the whole. It is my speculation that many of those tickets that have been issued over the past several days have been cited to individuals who “know somebody” in the legal system. The intense and well-meaning efforts by our state will be for naught if some people have those tickets thrown out in court just because of their connections. Not only does the state miss out on revenue, but that individual will not learn the importance of safety on the roads. Favoritism has no place in the Lord’s church. If there are rules in place on the congregational level, they must apply to everyone. It is a strong temptation for the Youth Minister to plan events, programs, or regulations for specific individuals. However, what is best for the whole is what needs to be done. We all hurt if we play favorites in the church (Gal. 3:28).
We think certain rules matter more than others. Many of us are okay bending (or breaking) the posted speed limits. Almost all of us take seriously laws about rape, murder, etc. Although the legal system recognizes a severity of laws, our hearts should be such to respect all of them with reverence. As Christians, we need to respect God’s will concerning every aspect of our lives. I have actually met married guys who have the staunchest of fervor for true New Testament worship, yet operate with a “look but don’t touch” mentality with attractive women. That is not respecting God’s will for our personal purity. All of the boundaries God has given us are important; we should respect them all in word and action (Jas. 1:21-22).
Finally, it only matters if someone ‘important’ is present. Even those who have no regard for the speed limit will slow down if they see a patrol car. Why? Because someone is present who can punish them. That itself acknowledges an understanding about the laws and emphasizes an irreverent attitude. As Christians, we must ask ourselves:
“Are there certain things I will not do at church services but will do with friends?”
“Are there clothes that I wouldn’t wear around fellow Christians but will wear to the mall?”
“Do I say things that sound ‘holy’ when I’m around the preacher, but don’t mention them to people who need the Lord?”
If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing no matter who is present. If it’s not worth doing, it’s not worth doing no matter who is present. We should strive to live a faithful life before God instead of putting on a show before men (Matt. 7:21-23).
May we all examine our hearts to make sure we are not living like “Speed Limit Christianity.”