This past summer I led a high school Bible study called Quiet Places. The concept was based on Mark 1:35 - "In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there."
We didn't have a lot of participants - two, maybe three each time we met. We traveled to various "quiet places" in Wisconsin. We talked & learned about prayer and then . . . well, we prayed. We always had a good time and it was always a blessing praying together.
The last meeting of our discussion group occurred in August. Remember when it was actually warm outside??? Our destination that day was Door County - the Riviera of The Badger State. There was a beach I knew about on the east side of the peninsula that had some smooth wave-worn stones laying about on the sand. The plan was, as part of our discussion, to write encouraging messages on them and then just leave them on the beach. At least I THOUGHT that's what our topic was going to be. It turned out we were going to be participating in an ad lib devotional . . . on rules.
I had just picked up three teens in my tiny little Ford Focus and was headed to pick up a fourth when I rounded a corner coming into town and there was a cop car sitting right there! I checked my speed . . . 43. I looked at the speed limit sign . . . 25. Uh-oh.
I had been caught breaking a rule and I knew I was going to have to pay for it. And BOY, did I pay for it!! $217!!!
Do you remember in the movie, The Ten Commandments, when Charlton Heston . . . I mean, Moses . . . went up on Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments from God? And who could forget the moment in the film when God wrote on the mountain, with a fiery finger, all the laws (rules) His people had to obey.
We humans suck at following rules. There isn't a single one us us alive today, or at any time in history for that matter, who has obeyed every rule for their entire life. Only one person has ever made it through life without breaking any of God's rules but . . . more in him in a moment. :)
Open up your Bible to Exodus 20. Uh-oh. That's right. It's The Ten Commandments! You know, there's only 10 rules. It shouldn't be that tough. "Do not kill." I got that one! But Jesus tells us that if we hate someone, it's the same thing. Umm. Do not commit adultery! I haven't done that! Ha!! But Jesus tells me that if I even look at a woman and lust after her in my heart I am just as guilty. Oh . . .
There are those who say that we don't have to adhere to all the Old Testament rules anymore because Jesus came and He represented the NEW Covenant between God and man. Well, some of that's true but Jesus didn't come to abolish the rules. Ever read Matthew 5:17??
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." - Jesus
Rules exist to show us when we are doing wrong. For me on that day, there was a sign on the side of the road. It showed me the maximum speed "the law" wanted me to go. I wasn't paying attention and accidentally broke that law, therefore I had to pay a price.
I'd like you to imagine a hypothetical scenario with me. Go back and picture me sitting in my car on the side of the road, red and blue lights flashing in my mirror, teasing teens in the back seat. What if someone would have walked up to my car (after the police officer had given me my ticket) and said, "Hi. Would you like me to make that ticket disappear? I'll even have all the records of your previous violations disappear. All you have to do is believe in me and follow MY rules . . . oh, and no more speeding." Would I go for that? Heck, yeah!
We are offered that option every day. We wake up, destined to break God's rules. And breaking God's laws comes with a price tag . . . far more costly than $217. So why don't we all go for "the Jesus option" in our daily lives? We continue to break God's laws. God sees everything we do! We're not going to get away with anything!!
We need to admit we're sinners, habitual rule breakers, and then come before God in repentance, accepting God's offer of grace. We need to leave our sinful nature behind, quit speeding (repent), and follow Jesus. It's simple. But day after day after day, millions just basically roll up their windows and decide to pay the fine themselves. And they do. :(
Let's go back to my theoretical encounter with Christ for a moment. I had just accepted His offer to pay my parking ticket and to wipe my entire record of speeding tickets clean. What if when I looked back in my rear-view mirror and saw the cops handcuffing Jesus and putting in their squad car? Would we still feel as happy?
The fine God demands from us for unlawful disobedience to his rules is high. WAY high! But the death of Jesus on the cross paid our fine. Please, we need to listen to God when his Word tells us He wants to pay for our speeding tickets . . . our sins. Yes, we may still speed once in a while . . . but our fine has already been paid. And we owe everything to the one who paid the price.
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling." - Matthew 23:37