A few years back, my wife and I celebrated her birthday at a well known restraint. When we entered the restaurant I noticed a small plague on the checkout counter that notified us that this was a 100 percent smoke free restaurant. No sooner than I read the informative plague the hostess asked us whether we wanted smoking or non-smoking. We told her that we preferred non-smoking.
As we were being seated, I could not help but wonder why that question was necessary in a 100 per cent smoke free restaurant. When our server came, my curiosity was getting the best of me. I asked the server why we needed to be asked whether we preferred smoking or non-smoking if it was a 100 per cent smoke free facility. The server’s explained, “If you are 80 per cent smoke free, you met the requirements.”
I am not sure if this explanation was accurate, but my first inclination is to believe that it was...It is typical of the manner in which we interpret rules and laws today. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, we are often sticklers about the laws that do not interfere with our lives but we are constantly looking for ways to circumvent the ones that are not suitable to our purposes.
Just in case you are thinking that this does not apply to you. Think about this. When was the last time you thought it was all right to exceed the speed limit as long as you did not exceed it more that five miles per hour? I sense that there are still some toes that have not been stepped upon. Let me try one more time. When is the last time that you went to a buffet and while you were there, you attempted to split a dinner or even a salad with someone with you? In your eyes, it may be a frugal decision. In God’s eyes, it is taking something that you have not paid for. Some would call that stealing. The point is that most of us operate on the assumption that laws and rules are good until they interfere with something we want.
While we often seem to get away with such tactics in the world, we need to be reminded that in God’s law there is not room for maneuvering. What God says; God means! To make matters worse, God says that if we have broken one of His laws we have broken all of them. This is why Paul refers to God’s Law as a tutor. It is there to show us how incapable we are of keeping the Law perfectly.
The theological term for the breaking of one of God’s laws is sin. In his Letter to the Romans Paul wrote: “we all have sinned and fallen short of His glory.” The bad news does not end there. He goes on to notify us that “the wages of sin is death.” The death to which he refers is much more that the ending of these physical lives that we cling to so doggedly. It means a spiritual death that eternally separates us from the God that we were originally created to have fellowship with.
Since I believed the appraisal of man found above, it was not difficult for me to see that I had a great need that I could not meet on my own. My breaking of God’s law had separated me from Him and all my efforts were not enough to restore the fellowship that has been broken. If I had not believed the rest of the story, I would have been extremely depressed over my hopeless condition.
I am grateful that Paul followed his bad news with good news. He wrote, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ our Lord.”(Romans 6:23) The rest of the story is that God loved me enough to provide a means by which I could be restored to the fellowship that had been lost. He gave His Son, Jesus, to die on a Cross for my sins. When I received Him into my life and decided to follow Him, the forgiveness that He died to provide became mine
The “Good News” in all of this is that the miracle of redemption is for anyone who is willing to open his/her heart to receive it. My prayer is that you will take that step, if you have not done so. You will not regret it.