Friday, May 18, 2007

The Law & The Guy Who Fears Its Consequences

He's roughly 6' tall, 190 lbs, black male wearing dark pants, white shirt, and a bright blue do-rag.

There are times when our awareness of the law is heightened. Usually, those times are when we are made aware of the presence of law-enforcement. Like when we are driving our car and realize there is a police car following behind us. "Am I speeding?" "Did I roll through that last stop sign?" "Are my tags expired?" The law is BIG in that moment.

Most other times our consciousness of the law is much more relaxed. It exists, we know it, and we rarely think about it. That's the way it should be. That's good.

To state the obvious, the greatness or smallness of our consciousness of the law doesn't govern whether the law is in effect or not. The law is always in effect, whether we're aware of it or not. It is always there. We are just more aware of it at certain times (like when the blue-lights flash). Without someone to enforce the law, every man can do what seems right in his own eyes, and there will be no negative repercussions for it. That's not good.

Law-breakers suffer from another type of law-consciousness. Fear. Why are many of us unafraid of the law right now? Because as law-abiding citizens we know that "rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil" (Romans 13:3). It is the law-breaker who has the fear of the law, and of the law-enforcement. And so they should.

The guy who broke into my storage shed this morning was smart...sort of. He rang the doorbell to see if anyone was home. Ding dong (10-15 second pause). Ding dong (shorter pause). Ding dong (long silence). He was taking measures to avoid being caught for breaking the law. Smart guy...sort of.

Then, in the back yard, "clank, bang." The shed's door was "opened," and my less-than-impressive contents were exposed. All was good for the thief. Until, from my window, he heard "bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang." When I banged on the window, he dropped everything he was holding, and ran. Why? Why didn't he slowly and methodically continue "borrowing" my mower or whatever else he needed? Why was his first thought, "Run?" I think I know the answer. Let's play multiple choice:

(A) Was it because the thief received a supernatural revelation simultaneous to my window-knocking that the Lord had graciously sent a hoard of goats to his yard in order to groom it yard-of-merit style, sparing him the sweat of mowing himself? "Oh great," he thought to himself, "I don't have to mow today!"

(B) Was it because the thief was instantaneously reminded that he forgot to exercise this morning, so he thought he would take a jog before returning for my stuff?

Not impossible, but not likely either.

How about another option. (C) None of the above.

Why was he so calm...until I banged on the window? Why didn't he stick around to have some tea? A good conversation about today's beautiful weather? A game of catch? Shoot the breeze with the MPD who were on their way?

We all know why he left so abruptly. But it is worth considering again!

It took me a second to get my key, and get outside, but by then he was long gone. He left because he is a law-breaker. He wants something for nothing in such a way that violates the law. His problem wasn't out-of-control Bermuda, but an out-of control heart. "As long as I don't get caught, I'm fine," is his modus operandi. Knowing there are consequences for law-breakers is THE reason he didn't hang around when I knocked on the window, and hurried outside. We all know that.

How well do we know that every law-breaker faces consequences is the question.

Am I any different than my five-finger discount friend? Hardly. What about you? Nope.

Though probably not systematically, my thief nonetheless concluded that the consequences for stealing my stuff were not great enough to avert him from trying to do so. If, however, he was certain that he would be caught, he wouldn't have even showed up at my place, would he? That's the way consequences work. If the consequences are big enough and sure enough, it equals zero law-breaking 100% of the time! Think about it.

Consider this: What if my guy would have known that "officer _______" would have been sitting inside the shed on one of my camping chairs with a loaded gun just waiting for someone to break the lock? Our minds and our actions change when the consequences of breaking the law are heightened, don't they?

My visitor knows what we all know. He knows that if he does something unlawful, and someone catches him, then the one who catches him can bring the consequences of the law to bear on him. He ran because he was fearful of the consequences of the law.

After the dust settled, and the police left, something very important hit me.
Consequences are massive motivators.

More grievously than shed-looting, I have broken God's Law. Along with my "visitor,"
I am a law-breaker. And, God needs no officers to enact His consequences on me. I'm doomed without His undeserved pardon. Where can I hide? The sea? The grave? Not exactly.

This morning's episode is another reason why this week's Grace Group memory passage is so massively important.

Every person has broken God's law. And God has been waiting inside every shed every single time that His law has been broken. He has, without exception, caught every law-breaker every time. He sits in the sheds of our thought-life, our unlawful acts of commission, our negligent voids of omission. Literally, every act of rebellion against God has been observed by Him. All of it! This morning, again, I rejoiced because I'm so glad that I've been caught! Even more so because I've been cleared!

I hope to get to tell that guy who was in such a hurry to leave my backyard this morning what great delight there is when freedom from the fear of being caught vanishes! Please pray with me for him to know he has been caught by God, and that there is only one way for him to also be released by God.

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