When I was in college I saw the comedian Gallagher (he’s the one who smashed watermelons with a sledge hammer). I remember him saying, “When you come to a traffic light, contrary to popular belief yellow does not mean put it to the floor. Yellow is there to slow things down, not create chaos.”
That came to mind when I was looking through my pictures and I saw the new paved parking lot at the church. Monday it was paved and Wednesday it was striped. For the past year, it’s been a gravel overflow lot. It was great to have it, but you never knew how people were going to park in it or how many cars would fit based on how people parked. Now with it paved and lined, people have some guidance to know the best way to use the parking area. The lines have created some order where there once was anarchy. Now there are 24 additional spaces. Before the lines, we would have been lucky to fit 12 cars in that area. The lines are there to help.
And that makes me think about God. Some people criticize Christianity because of ‘rules’. Others act as if there are no rules – “We’re living under grace”, they say, with the only rule being to love God and love your neighbor. Jesus said that was the first and greatest commandment, but He did not say it was the only commandment.
God has set guidelines/rules showing us how to manage our wealth and possessions, how to handle relationships, how to treat others, and how to live life in general. There are right and wrong ways to live our lives. And God’s ways are for our joy. For example, He doesn’t tell us to refrain from sex outside of marriage because He doesn’t want us to have fun or doesn’t love us. He tells us that because He does love us and knows that is best for us. He knows that casual intimate relationships leave us empty and with regret. He doesn’t command us to help others with our wealth to deprive us of things we want to buy for ourselves, but as a way to acknowledge that everything we have has been entrusted to us by Him for His glory, not for our own selfish ambition. He doesn’t tell us to forgive so that we appear weak or spineless. He knows that holding grudges only eats away at us.
I hope that when you see traffic lights, stop signs, and parking lot lines, you will think of God and His ways. I hope you will remember that because of His great and perfect love for us, He has told us how to live. And living apart from His will is like having a parking lot without lines – it’s chaos.