I am a rule follower by design…
But I sometimes let rule-following get in the way of my journey in the crosswalk of Christian faith.
Example: Last week, while I was taking “The Monster Behind the Door” for his morning constitutional, I witnessed the same somebody entering a parking lot through the exit that is clearly marked with a “DO NOT ENTER” sign, and a big giant painted yellow arrow pointing out toward the street. She does this two or three mornings per week!
I have to admit that this behavior riles me almost as much as when someone fails to stop when I am in the crosswalk! Okay Pat; breathe… “Serenity now! Serenity now.”
I am working on a sermon series, and studying extensively, the “Shema”; that great and wonderful Hebrew prayer of identity and covenantal. I have learned that Jewish scholars, through the centuries, have spoken about having balance in faith because too much spirituality can lead to antinomianism (look it up, definition searches are good for you!), rejection of the law, and eventually religious anarchy. On the flip-side, if you have to much focus on the moral code of the L, this can lead to sterile, stifling, and heatless dogmatism and religious legalism.
In my faith journey, I have come across religious legalists and antinomians. As a rule follower, I must admit that I have to continuously check myself because I can start to drift toward the former, but I have also had legalists accuse me of being antinomian. I have found, like the Hebrew scholars through the centuries, I must maintain balance in my walk of faith. This is not a discovery of my own doing, but rather a prompting of the Holy Spirit of “42.”
This is solid ground; look at the Gospel witness about our Lord. Jesus was often harangued by legalists (scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees); just look at the many exchanges pertaining to the keeping of the Sabbath Yet, Jesus was also gracious and compassionate in conversations with those who seemed to have little or no regard for the Law (the woman at the well, the adultness on the street, Zacchaeus, the tax collectors; to name a few), but never let them off the hook about their behaviors. Jesus also taught that he did not “come to abolish the Law or the Prophets…but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17 ESV
Does this sound like a antinomian or legalist?
Ultimately, I the rules and laws of the secular world have there to protect us and others. So it stands to reason that “42” gave us commandments, morals, and ethics to follow to protect our relationship with Him and our neighbors, and to protect us. Therefore, we should honor and uphold them the best we can because the LORD has reasons for giving them to us.
I also know that I am (we are) not capable of keeping the moral code perfectly, nor are they a means to salvation. But keeping them the best that I (you) can is an act of devotion, and a response to salvation! After all, the cross stands high on the hill as a beacon of hope that he forgives me (and you)!
So back to the lady who consistently enters through the exit, and all those people who don’t stop when Yoshi and I are in the crosswalk; I forgive you.
Yoshi, on the other hand, says: “KNOCK IT OFF!!”