A lot of people seem to have a certain distrust of, or even dislike for, law enforcement. Of course, people who get in trouble with the law have their reasons, but even “law-abiding” citizens often react negatively to the well-hidden patrolman who sits by the highway with a radar gun. Many feel somehow cheated when they see those tricky officers in their unmarked cruisers.
I think it is fear.
We are afraid of getting pulled over, afraid that we might not be paying attention when the speed limit reduces to thirty-five, or afraid the officer might actually catch us when we don’t care about the speed limit. We are afraid of the law.
In our “rational” moments we would never admit to it. We believe we are model citizens, well-behaved and excellent drivers. But, deep inside we know better. We are afraid of the law because we don’t always keep the law.
That’s why you can be cruising down the highway right at the speed limit, with traffic moving nicely, until you near a patrol car driving just under the speed limit. Traffic piles up, brake lights flicker, and everyone is looking at the speedometer. We are all afraid of the law.
That is right where God wants us to be before He moves us on to the relief of grace. He wants us to be afraid of law, to feel trapped, harassed, and guilty. He wants us to get so fed up with “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not,” so ashamed of our failures and criminal behavior, that when He introduces salvation by grace through faith into the picture we will jump at the chance to be free from law. That is why He gave us law (see Galatians 3:19-25).
But, we are not really jumping. Instead, we are often rather suspicious. There is finality and a kind of morbid safety in laws. At least with law we know exactly what to do and what not to do, at least we have stop signs and speed limits. At least with law we have a way to measure how good we are doing (grammatically speaking, I should say, “how well we are doing,” but, we think we are good).
That’s not the point of faith, though, and not the measure of our salvation. If it were then we would all be hopelessly lost, because we are all criminals. The point of faith is that Christ is good, so we must rely on Him. The point is that God doesn’t care as much about the speed limit sign as He does that we want to obey. It is that want to obey, to serve, love, worship, and live mindful of Him that constitutes faith, our instrument of salvation.
So, we ought to be jumping at the chance God has given us. We do not have to be afraid of law any more. We can put our faith in Christ and rest assured that we are safe, innocent, and lawful. The accuser will not catch us or find us out, if we want to serve our God.