One of my granddaughters just finished her classroom work for driver’s education, which leads to one of those significant life events — the driver’s test.
The fruit of successful completion of that test leads to the often but not always coveted driver’s license. Operators of motor vehicles are told, at least for now, that driving is a privilege not a right. I am reminded that rights are fluid things that may be whimsically applied to all sorts of activities.
Part of her classroom study was devoted to the identification of signs by their design. For example, the stop sign, which has a distinctive, yet often ignored message to stop, seems straight forward enough to make it an elementary command. But experience warns against that assumption.
The reason for stop signs is not to impede traffic, but to facilitate its safe and efficient flow. This is somewhat similar to Biblical law, which wasn’t given to make life more difficult, but to give fullness to life.
There are many examples of this, and one of the best is recorded in the book of John. Jesus had been speaking to some Pharisees, who were angry at Him for healing a blind man on the Sabbath. Not everyone may be familiar with the Jewish sect called the Pharisees. They were “separatists,” who were one of at least three religious sects prominent during the time of Christ.
Although not formed as a political body, they did have political influence. They took great pains to separate themselves from common people by avoiding “legal contamination,” which resulted in nearly endless adding to existing law. They were, in our vernacular, the original “holier than thou” people. Except their goal was to be holier than everybody.
This particular event illustrates the problem with that kind of thinking. The Pharisees had added to a practical law about the need for rest and made it something callous to the point of cruelty. The original law, in Exodus 20:8, was simply “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” In context more information about the Sabbath is given in the following verses, but nothing that would suggest healing should be avoided during the Sabbath. To understand the larger context of this discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees, you may want to read chapters nine and 10 of John.
The verse that I want to convey is in John 10:10. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Underline in your mind where Jesus says His coming is to bring fullness to the life He gives. This is significant because in Matthew 5:17, Jesus says His purpose in coming is to fulfill the law. It is encouraging to remember the law was not given for us to qualify for His love, but the law was given to express His love for us.
Bill Upton is chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.