Summary: The laws of God provide order, blessing and transformation.
Recently, Vince McMahon, chairman of the World Wrestling Federation announced the beginning of the XFL, the X-rated Football League. McMahon said, “The NFL has become too conservative, too corporate with too much regulation. We’re bringing back old-fashioned, smashmouth football but with cutting-edge marketing and production values.” Much like the WWF wrestling shows, it will be football without the rules. If the popularity of the WWF is any indicator, the XFL will be a huge success.
People seem to like things where there are no rules. We eat at the Outback Steakhouse where the motto is: “No rules — Just right.” Ozzie Osbourne sings his song “Breakin’ All the Rules.” Howard Stern pushes the envelope with shock radio and now shock TV. Television lunges to break the rules of decency and pours out its programs of obscenity and gratuitous violence. The American Family is being reinvented so that almost anything qualifies as a “family.” The recent airing of the tawdry TV special “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire” certainly broke all the rules of the sacredness of marriage and loving commitment between a man and woman. Regis and Jesus might ask the same question about who wants to be a millionaire, but have very different responses to the issue. Jennifer Lopez broke all the rules of modesty and good taste at the Grammy Awards. Art is no longer valued for its ability to inspire, but for its ability to shock and offend. We are a culture that insists on coloring outside the lines.
Is it any wonder that we want to tear down the Ten Commandments posted on school and courtroom walls? Is it any wonder that there are those in our culture complain about people “trying to cram their values down other people’s throats”? In a valueless society, anyone with values is seen as unusual at best and judgmental at worst. So what do we as Christians do, who believe that we should live by the Ten Commandments, as well as the other laws of Scripture? What do we do when we believe that these laws apply not only to us, but that they are universal laws which apply to everyone? These are universal laws, because everyone has been created by God and lives in the world which he has made. How do we help our friends and neighbors to understand the importance of these laws without sounding judgmental and uptight? The key is understanding the purpose of God’s laws.
There are three points which I think are essential in understanding the laws of God and their purpose for our world and personal lives. The first is: The laws of God were meant to provide order. Think about what it would be like to live in a world without any rules. No one would stop at the stop light. People would drive in any lane they felt like. (We got a taste of that in Haiti.) There would be nothing to stop people from taking anything they wanted from stores. No one would be arrested for breaking into your home or abusing your family. Banks could lie about your interest rate and falsify your balance. There would be worldwide anarchy. No one would be safe on the streets. Only the strong and brutal would survive. The only reason we have peace and order is because our world is governed by laws. We may question those laws, and even break those laws, but the fact that they are there are the only thing that makes it possible for us to survive. Law and order are two words we often use together because order comes from the presence of law. Anarchy is a Latin term meaning “without rule.” We get a pretty clear picture of what anarchy looks like when law and order completely break down during the riots in a large metropolitan city. Chaos is the order of the day, and it is every person for themselves. It is impossible for business to continue. Whole sections of the city are destroyed. We have seen what anarchy looks like when an entire country is without law in a place like Bosnia.
So the next time you hear someone complaining about the laws we live under, remind them of what it would be like without those laws, as imperfect and unfair as some of them may be. The apostle Paul wrote to the people of Rome admonishing them to obey the civil authorities because of this very principle. He said, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience” (Romans 13:1-5).