While driving on the I-75 today I saw a car in the rear view mirror that looked like a police car. Instinctively my foot left the accelerator. Almost instantly I noticed that all the cars in front of me slowed also.
We all knew the speed limit and knew that we were exceeding it. But it took "the law" to change our behavior.
I wondered how often I, and others, engage in behavior that betrays our understanding of right and wrong but we don't stop until we are afraid we are going to get caught?
Wouldn't our lives be richer without that sense of guilt and the burden of worry? Why don't we act like we know we should?
During last week's Bishop's Days Apart for North Georgia clergy Tom Albin said information (knowledge) is important but it is not enough for transformation. Knowing to do something is not the same as doing it- or even being able to do it.
The Apostle Paul had some of the same feelings when he wrote: "I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time."
" It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. "
"I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? "
"The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different"
With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. (Romans 7:16-8:2, The Message).
I am grateful for the Law to remind me that I am doing wrong. But thank God even more for God's Spirit and God's grace that enables me to right.