Summary: How does the law function in the life of the believer? It is not proscriptive, but descriptive.

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When he was a boy growing up in Philadelphia, Tony Campolo and his best friend devised what they considered a brilliant and creative Halloween prank - one which, by the way, they never carried out. Their plan was to break into the basement of the local five-and-dime store. (To explain to children and young people, that’s a mini Wal-Mart.) They never planned to rob the store, but had they carried out their dream, it would have been far worse.

Their plan was to get into the store and change the price tags on all the merchandise. They imagined what it would be like the next morning when people came into the store and discovered that radios were marked at a quarter each and the price of hair pins had suddenly been raised to five dollars a package. With a great deal of delight, they wondered what it would be like in the store when no one could figure out what the prices of things really should be.

In recalling his boyhood plan of Halloween mischief, Campolo said that he often thinks that the world in which we live is trying to play that trick on all of us. At times, it appears that somebody has broken into our lives and changed the price tags—the value—attached to practically everything.

What makes matters worse it that we often play along with this malicious devilment! We have a tendency to treat with loving care those things that are of little worth, while at the same time making great sacrifices for that which, in the ends, has not real lasting value.

Sometimes is seems that we have little notion about how to realistically assess and assign appropriate values to the contents of our lives. It often seems like there is a complete failure to understand what is important in life.

Who switched the price tags?

A couple hours down the road in North Carolina approval has just been given but their state assembly to institute a state lottery. Our neighbors to the north has now join Virginia and dozens of other states in the odd affirmation gambling is actually taxation.

When I was in seminary in Kentucky I was a part of a coalition of students, pastors, and faculty of our school who oppose (unsuccessfully) that’s state’s drive to approve a state lottery. One of my friends took part in a televised debate about the subject. One of the proponents for the lottery argued that the proceeds of the lottery would help raise funds to make better schools. Then he said: “And this is a voluntary tax! If you don’t want to pay this tax, don’t buy lottery tickets.”

My friend, who was the pastor of an inner city congregation, responded: “The truth is that my church will be buying lottery tickets every day. When some father has become so addicted to a state sponsored gambling habit, our church will be the one who buys groceries for his wife and children. When some mother has spent her last few dollars in an attempt to get-rich-quick, our church will be paying for her baby’s formula.”

Think about it. We’ve replaced an honest days work for an honest days wages for a get-rich-quick scheme of state sponsors gambling – and we have the audacity to call it a voluntary tax.

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