This morning as I came to work I stopped my car at a stop sign. Now I imagine for the vast majority of you this is not earth shattering news. Some may think that our pastor may be losing it to write a comment like that (or that I am really stretching for anything to write in this article). But as per the usual – there is a method to my madness in writing that statement. Ever wonder why we just stop at these signs? To be honest, there were no other cars coming – or even there at the 4 way stop. There was no police officer to enforce the law – and for any real practical reason – there was little or no need for me to stop. Pragmatism would even argue against stopping as it would delay my arrival at work – as well as cost me more gas to decelerate and accelerate again. So . . . why did I do it? Why did I obey an octagonal red sign with the word “STOP” in the middle of it? What power does that sign have over me that I automatically stop when I come to it.
Inherent in answering that question is an understanding of a few things as we get started. The sign is there because of the law. If I go through that intersection without stopping, I am breaking the law. If I get caught doing this I will receive a ticket that will cost me money (both in a fine and in higher auto insurance rates). If I do it often enough it could even cost me my license. If I do it at the wrong time – and hit another car and injure or even kill someone, I could lose my freedom in jail. All of this is true – but it only answers why I might stop in a higher risk scenario. Why did I stop this morning? Why, when there was no risk – no danger – no real threat – did I stop all by myself – then – start back on my way?
The reason that I want to obey the law is because God, a higher authority than government, commands me to do so. He states in Romans 13 that all the governing authority on earth is there because He has allowed it. Unless a law commands me to directly disobey Him, I am to willingly and joyfully submit to it (as well as to those who make them). To do otherwise is far worse than just not obeying a stop sign. To disobey the governing authority is to act in rebellion against authority – and when I follow that line of authority – it winds up ending at the throne of God Himself. But – as I considered this further I saw even more to all this. Let me explain.
For at least 18 years I was not a believer – and yet I still stopped at STOP signs. You see, I was a product of the society in which I lived. That society has a basic understanding of the rule of law. That value was passed down to me by a succession of parents, grandparents, teachers, relatives, and neighbors. I grew up with a basic understanding that I was to honor the law, those who enforce it, and the constitution upon which it is based. Those were all givens. As a result of those givens, there was a basic order which I enjoyed as a child – a freedom – and a basic sense of security I experienced. All these were given to me because my parents, grandparents, etc. had chosen to live their lives under God.
When we obey the law – and as believers do so under God’s ultimate sovereignty – we are blessed people. We are not only blessed people – but we are blessing future generations as well. But, all is not well in our nation – or in our hearts. For decades I’ve watched as the rule of law has begun to break down. I’ve watched it in the highest echelons of our government. I’ve watched it as entertainment has glorified the bad boy mentality – and set before us anti-heros and thugs as examples and those we are told to emulate. I’ve watched as sexual immorality and perversion has been normalized and things like virginity and life-long heterosexual marriage has been increasingly viewed as strange. I’ve watched as the church has become increasingly antinomian (means without law) as a sloppy grace or no need for grace at all have been exalted in our world. Our society has disintegrated over these years and a lawlessness and moral anarchy has begun to be passed on to the next generation. I shudder at what will be given to my grandchildren as “the norm” for their generation.
All this came from stopping at a stop sign? Yes, but it came from wondering what made me stop when I was the only one there. Or was I the only one there? You see, I believe God was there – that I live before Him. I believe He sees all – and all that I am responsible to honor and glorify Him in “everything” I do. (By the way – I do not congratulate myself for stopping – and my sanctification has such a long way to go on so many other issues). Ultimately, all this is about Who is the authority in your life – and how you respond to the ultimate Authority. A STOP sign in a small thing – yet a simple test. Am I an authority unto myself – or – do I truly recognize the ultimate Authority over all things? Submission to authority (and ultimately to the Authority) is a fact of life. How I respond in this everyday realm is like taking my temperature. It is an indicator of whether I have heart-issues or not. Not stopping at a stop sign – speed limits – obeying an earthly authority – all are just indicators of where my heart is. Whether I like it (or even admit it) or not – these indicators have much to say about where I am with God. You see – by submitting joyfully to them I not only am blessed – but I am being a blessing to my family, my friends, my neighbors, and my society as well. And if I read the Bible correctly – my submission will also create a better environment in which I can share the gospel as well. So, saints of God – how are you doing at obeying STOP signs – and the One Who is ultimately The Authority behind them? Simple submission is a blessing – to you – and to far more than you. May your submission to God’s authority in all things bring you that blessing – and bring it to a generation that desperately needs a fresh example of it once again!
Most of these articles are taken from the Calvary Courier, a weekly newsletter that is sent to the folks who attend Calvary Chapel Jonesboro. Due to the response to these articles, we've decided to print some of them which proved to be very helpful to God's people at the fellowship.
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