I went to Hoven for the volleyball match Tuesday night. A couple of things happened that night that just kind of struck me.
One thing was that, on the way there, law enforcement had set up a safety checkpoint. Now, this was no big deal. Make sure the headlights work, make sure the turn signals work, etc. I doubt that it took five minutes. Still, it kind of bugged me. I was not doing anything wrong. Why should law enforcement be able to stop me for no reason at all, just because they felt like it?
The other thing was when I was at the game and went to use the rest room. I saw a sign on the window that said, “Please do not open window.” Now, if that sign had not been there, it would never have occurred to me to open the window. Because I saw the sign, though, I had a desire to go and open the window. I did not, but it was a hard temptation for me to resist.
It seems like there’s just something inside of us that wants to resist authority. We don’t like people to be able to tell us what to do and what not to do. We want to make those decisions for ourselves.
The thing is, though, that when we make decisions for ourselves, those decisions have consequences. We don’t necessarily want to accept those consequences. We want to make our own decisions, but we also kind of like the idea that there’ll be someone there to bail us out if our decisions don’t work out.
That has implications for our faith. God, of course, is the ultimate authority. One of the reasons we resist God is that we look at God as someone who tells us what to do and what not to do. We don’t like that. We want to make those decisions for ourselves. We want to decide how we’ll live and what we’ll do, and we don’t like it when God interferes with that. In fact, sometimes we’re tempted to do things it would otherwise never have occurred to us to do, just because we don’t like the idea of God telling us we can’t.
When our decisions have consequences, though, we don’t necessarily like that. Sometimes, that’s when we turn back to God and pray for help. We want to make our own decisions, but we still kind of like the idea that God will be there to bail us out if necessary.
The thing is, though, that when God sets out rules, telling us that we should do certain things and should not do other things, that’s not God just exercising authority of us. God is not a celestial highway patrolman, interfering for no reason in the hope of catching us doing something wrong. God sets out rules because God knows more than we do. When God sets out rules, it’s God telling us “You know, you’d really be happier and live a better life if you’d just live the way I’m telling you to live.”
We’re free to ignore God’s rules if we want to, but that will have consequences. We’ll be less happy. We won’t live as good a life. Sometimes, we realize that, and we turn to back to God. If we decide that now we’re going to try it God’s way and ask for forgiveness, God will give it to us. God may not “bail us out” on this earth—we still may have to deal with the consequences of our earthly actions—but we’ll be new people, better people, because we’re now living with God in our lives.
Remember, Jesus only gave us two rules: love God and love each other. If we do that, we’ll find out that the rest of the rules will take care of themselves.