As we unknowingly sped through a little town, we were unpleasantly surprised to have our David Platt sermon broadcast interrupted by the blue light special behind us. Thankfully the kids were so engrossed in their movies that they didn't ask too many questions, but neither did Mr. Policeman. He did not care that we were a sweet little couple listening to a sermon while driving our four little angels to their grandparents' house for Christmas. Nor did he care that we are a one income family whose one income is less than we'd like it to be or that my very kind husband has started his own nonprofit organization to help people in third world countries. He didn't even care that it was Christmas eve eve eve. All he seemed to be concerned with was the fact that we'd broken the law.
Our first reaction was what most people's would be...internally, at least. Thankfully we kept our mouths shut in front of Mr. Fife. But to ourselves, it went something like, "Jerk. Couldn't you find someone a little more deserving of your time and punishment? We didn't even know what the speed limit was because we were so engrossed in the very admirable act of listening to someone bring God's Word. We're good, law-abiding people who never cause trouble. You're obviously a BLEEPITY-BLEEPITY- BLEEP." (Okay, I didn't actually think cuss words, but they weren't exactly nice words either.)
Right in the middle of all this holly jolly holiday cheer, the Holy Spirit showed me the truth behind this whole unpleasant episode.
Isn't that many of us spiritually? We're speeding along doing lots of good -even admirable - things when we break the law. Not the city of Podunkville's law, but God's law. And while we may not have necessarily set out to break the law, we did it just the same. Why? Because that's who we are. Careless sinners who are more concerned with what we're doing than with what God has made clear to us about what we should or shouldn't do. We think that because we're not as bad as the bank robber down the street that we shouldn't be punished.
The fact of the matter is, the speed limit was posted and we knew it existed because there's always a speed limit. We just chose to ignore it. And whether there was a murder being committed a block away or not, that doesn't change the fact that we were lawbreakers.
Though that police officer was completely justified in stopping us and giving us a ticket, we still thought he was an ignorant, arrogant jerk. But why? The truth is, he never acted like a jerk and even apologized for having to give us the citation. But our proud human nature wanted to be mad at him and blame him for what had happened to us. That poor man, whose sense of style is obviously a little challenged, was just doing his job. He wasn't Ebenezer Scrooge. He was the enforcer of justice. And don't we all want justice? We don't want people speeding through our towns and neighborhoods, potentially plowing our children down in the streets. But we just hate to get caught doing it ourselves. It's all good and fine when someone else gets punished, but somehow we think we should have gotten a break.
The fact is, it's not God's fault when someone gets sent to hell, or even suffers the earthly consequences for sin. He's posted the warnings, the guidelines, and the laws. We've chosen to ignore them and do our own thing. So, that leaves the God of justice with one option. Let justice be served.
All of this - my recognition of my guilt - thankfully leads me not to a place of resentment and questioning the character of the Righteous Judge, as it does so many. It leads me to a place of immense gratitude. I'm thankful for a manger, thankful for a cross, thankful for an empty tomb, and thankful for a seat occupied at the right hand of God. I'm thankful for grace, mercy, and love. My ticket has been paid. My driving record is clean. I'm innocent not because of my perfection but because of His great love which motivated Him to send His Son in the flesh, Immanuel, to pay the price. Thanks be to God for His great gift.
And now that the lesson has been learned, does anyone want to be Jesus and pay this fine? Just wondering.
We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. I Corinthians 5:20b-21