“HONK! SCREECH!” Seldom do those sounds bring a feeling of concern along with the trace of a smile. This morning I experienced both emotions, as I witnessed a near accident. Let me preface the rest of this story, by saying that neither driver was injured.
A local store’s parking lot was designed by an apparent full time pedestrian. No experienced driver would have placed a single entrance on the less visible side of the store and two exits on the store’s front. “No Left Turn” and “Do Not Enter” signs are stationed at the exits. Yet, almost daily I witness cars entering into the lot – illegally. Why? Because the drivers would need to go around the corner to enter. Society today just doesn’t cope well with inconvenience.
Anyhow, this particular driver made the illegal left handed turn in combination with the illegal entry. In addition, the aforementioned driver was on their cell phone. Although that is an additional pet peeve, that’s a story for another time. Usually, this illegal turn simply ticks off those of us more inclined to follow the law. (Not that the temptation hasn’t arisen) This time, however, another driver was proceeding to exit the same driveway – quite legally I must add. A car horn blared, which I assume was hit by driver number two, who didn’t have a phone in their hand. Fortunately for both, the warning came just in the nick of time. This is where the “screech” occurred, as brakes on both cars locked. The two cars came within inches of becoming one. Thankfully, neither driver was moving quickly and the fender bender was prevented – this time. Hopefully it served as a wake up call for driver number one, on multiple levels.
I do not consider myself a malicious person. Nor do I take pleasure in the adversity of others. However, I must admit that knowing that no one was hurt, and that this situation was totally avoidable, my “trace of a smile” was triggered by the thought of “justice!”. If they had only obeyed the signs, with the understanding that they were posted with a purpose! This person’s flagrant disobedience was detrimental not only to themselves, but impacted others as well – excuse the pun.
My amusement at the situation was short lived. God has a way of using situations around me, to speak to my heart. How many signs have I ignored in life? What consequences have I faced and how many other lives have I negatively impacted due to my carelessness?
The answers to questions could unfortunately fill volumes. One other question lingers on in my mind. As I look at the world around me, how many people are ignoring the warnings which God has posted?
It started with Adam and Eve. In the midst of perfection, God posted one “sign”; “Don’t Eat The Fruit Of THIS Tree!”. Pretty straight forward! In the equivalent of basic driver’s ed., God even explained the warning’s purpose. He told Adam that eating it would bring death. Now, that’s a stern warning! Yet, we know the outcome, as the warning was ignored.
Fast forward to the time of Moses. In the place of a single warning, God established ten. Each and every one of these commandments was for the benefit of mankind. Follow these rules and it will go well for you. Again, people took them as suggestions, instead of ordinances for our protection and provision. Today, these timeless, proven rules are being removed from the very places which should be the epitome of their enforcement. If “Do not murder” and “Do not commit adultery” were more respected by those meant to enforce the rules, they wouldn’t be so rampantly ignored by so many members of society.
Move ahead again and we see how God’s ten perfect commandments have been multiplied into the thousands. Legalism has replaced obedience to God’s simple rules. Man’s inclusions to God’s perfect directions have become so overwhelmingly impossible to follow, that people simply gave up trying.
Enter Jesus. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says; “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”. Hmm… Okay, what did He mean by that? Jesus never negated the importance of God’s laws. He is actually God’s response to our inability to abide by them. Jesus lived life the way we are meant to live. He was “tempted in every way”. If Jesus walked among us today, there is a very real possibility that He would be tempted to enter the exit, as a short cut. But, He wouldn’t do it, because the law prohibits the action for a reason. If I follow Him, obedience of the law becomes automatic.
Look at the ten commandments as personified through Jesus’ life on earth.
1) “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” – Jesus gave glory to no one, including Himself – except to the Father.
2) “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” – Jesus openly spoke out against the idolatry of such things as “the love of money”.
3) “Thou shalt not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain” – Jesus didn’t call out to His Father for food, shelter or even deliverance when He hung upon the cross. When He cried out, in the garden, Jesus qualified His request with “not My will, but Thine”.
4) “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy” – Jesus observed the sabbath as time for the focus to be on God. He was questioned and challenged about this, when He healed on the sabbath. Was it work? Yes. But, as Jesus pointed out, it was the LORD’s work. Observing and being legalistic are two different things.
5)”Honor thy father and thy mother” – Jesus’ lived to honor His Heavenly Father. Honor for Mary, His Mother, was proven as He committed her care to His trusted friend John. Honor for both Mary and Joseph was shown, when at the age of 12 He obediently went home with them.
6) “Thou shalt not kill” – When He was arrested in the garden, Jesus commanded Peter to put away his sword. “Matthew 26:53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” Yet, violence was not what He sought.
7) “Thou shalt not commit adultery” – Adultery by definition means being untrue, unfaithful. This does not refer solely to marriage. Jesus’ first love and commitment was to the Father and to Him He was truly faithful. That also infers that Jesus was faithful to the Father’s will, in all ways.
8) “Thou shalt not steal” – Jesus once said that “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”. Yet, in spite of His life of poverty, Jesus did not give into the temptation’s which satan placed before Him in the wilderness. Nor did He ever even try to steal the credit for His miracles – that credit He said belongs to the Father.
9) “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” – As “The Truth”, Jesus could not lie. Even at the time of His arrest, Jesus openly proclaimed: “I am He whom ye seek”.
10) “Thou shalt not covet…” – Wanting what is not yours was not in Jesus nature, as pointed out in all of the preceding commandments. Even Satan tried to appeal to the covetous nature of sin, when he tempted Jesus with “all of these things can be yours” Matthew 4:9. Although tempted in His humanity, Jesus never lost sight of what was His; to serve the Father by accepting the cross.
This is a barebones look at Jesus’ fulfillment of the Father’s commandments. But, He posted a few signs of His Own, requiring our attention and obedience. The first sign reads; “If you love Me, you will follow My commandments”. I like His reasoning! If Jesus loves me enough to make rules for my benefit, I should love Him enough to obey them. But, what are they? Wait. There’s another signpost up ahead…. It reads:
“I AM The Way, The Truth and The Life. No man comes unto the Father, but by Me.”.
I’ve checked the original Greek, and every translation I can find. Nowhere is this verse translated as; “A Way…”. Jesus sacrifice for our sins was a one time Gift from God. He doesn’t scatter different portals into Heaven, like something out of a science fiction movie, waiting to see if we stumble into them. One Way. One Truth. One Life.
That seems to be a hard sign for some folks to accept. “One Way” means you can’t take short cuts and go your own way. Why? “One Truth” is an absolute. The Truth of the matter is; if you try to go the wrong way, you face opposition. In the same way as our driver was distracted, with the phone, Satan puts enticing billboards all along life’s paths. Nothing would please him more than to see us turn spiritually into what we thought was a safe entrance, only to find ourselves headed into a potentially dangerous situation. “The Way” and “The Truth” are signs which Jesus posted to lead us into “The Life”. That certainly sounds beneficial to me! That “Life” is eternal. But, it begins when you tune your spiritual GPS into the directions which Jesus set before us. As Believers in the Truth, we don’t need to wait until “Eternity” to experience and enjoy the Life. All we need to do is obey the signs go the right Way.
If you’ve strayed off the Path and gone the wrong way, admit your errors. Then back up and follow Jesus. The signs are there. Whether or not you obey them, is your choice. Spiritual disaster is avoidable for all of us. If you see someone headed the wrong way, warn them! You might get a dirty look for “honking” at them. But, that sure beats knowing that the screech of a misguided life has become a crash and burn.