It may be hard to live with them, but it is impossible to live without them!
For the next three posts, I am going to be a pastoral theologian. I have some theological-biblical thoughts that will be applied in pastoral and spiritual ways. This is a supplement to the message on Wisdom (and Foolishness) but it focuses on the issue of laws, commands, and God’s grace.
The things I am going to explain are important and they need longer explanations. I had thought about doing one more message in our Breaking Bad, Becoming Good series on this subject; however, we didn’t have room in the calendar for this message.
What I say in these three posts is really significant. I hope you will read them carefully and think them through. On the final day, I’ll provide a PDF you can download that will contain all three days.
Law has a pretty bad rap today.
So do rules and regulations. We don’t like them.
We don’t like laws. We don’t like laws that tell us what to do and what not to do. We don’t like laws when they are posted as speed limits on I-83.
We don’t like the tax laws that remind us that the government claims a good bit of our income—especially in March and April.
I don’t like many of the rules and regulations that seem to multiply and increasingly dictate how we have to live and work and lead. Every church in Pennsylvania must now jump through many more hoops about volunteers who work with children and teens. It is inconvenient to go through the certification process.
But whether I like them or not, these laws, rules, and regulations describe and mandate the norms for how we will interact with one another.
- Parents are glad that adult workers have to get clearances to work with their children.
- MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is glad we have blood alcohol content limits and speed limits.
- We are all glad that not just any quack can hang out a medical sign and practice medicine. (Well, I guess some people still do that on the Internet.) I want my doc to be well-trained, regulated, and constantly up to date.
- If I visit a therapist (of any sort) I want that person licensed as well.
- I am glad there are expiration dates on food that say, “Use by this date.” The last thing I need is to get food poisoning from food that went bad.
- I am glad for all products that remind me to “Keep out of reach of children.”
- I am glad that child support is mandated when divorce happens, and that wages can be garnished for those who would prefer NOT to support their children.
- I am grateful that any purchase of a firearm requires background checks for criminal records. I am NOT glad that criminals still find ways to get guns. On that, I wish there would be more regulations.
Necessity of Laws
Without norms (and remember, we experience them in the form of laws, rules, and regulations) we would have anarchy. It would be like what is described in the Book of Judges (17:6; 18:1; 21:25). Everyone does as they “see fit.” Chaos and evil are the result. It is like the movie and TV shows called The Purge. No rules. Do what you want.
There are many riots around the world. We have experienced them in the United States, but rarely to the depths of violence and destruction seen around the world.
Imagine with me, for a moment, what would happen if there was a decree that came out from our national government that basically said: There will no longer be any laws. There will no longer be any enforcement to ensure good moral actions. There will no longer be any repercussions for bad moral actions. There are no courts, no police officers, no judges… But everyone, be on your best behavior!
How long do you think you’d like to live in a society like that?
It’s just common sense to know that laws are necessary. It is, of course, important to have good laws. What makes a particular law a good law is another matter, and an important matter, but we need laws, rules, regulations, policies, directions, mandates, codes, and abiding norms to frame right and wrong, good and bad.
So, what about Christianity?
What do Christian think about the law? What should Christians think about the law? And in particular, how should we think about God’s laws? That is tomorrow’s post.