June 04, 2014 - When learning to drive, my father told me to keep my speed to five miles an hour over the speed limit. I followed his instructions.
Later in life, while talking to my sister-in-law, she asked how I, a pastor, could willfully break the law by doing that.
This became a dilemma. Do I listen to the authority of my father or the authority of the law of the land? I chose the latter. It was a matter of respect.
When I drove fast, if I saw a patrol car, I would immediately take my foot off the gas even when going five miles an hour under the speed limit.
Why? I knew I was guilty, I had broken the law.
Some people see God like a policeman waiting to catch us doing something wrong, flip on the lights and punish us.
Too often we remember the words God spoke when He said I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me… (Exodus 20:5b). He wants our service and our devotion.
God has given the Law so we might respect Him and all His creation. Just like the laws of the land are there to keep us in check, to give us a guide and opportunity to reflect on what we are doing, so God's Law gives the same opportunity.
If we focus on the negative aspects of the Law we might see the Christian faith as a punishing, restrictive and binding religion. That is not what God offers. Instead He offers freedom and joy.
Exodus 20:6 reflects God's good and gracious nature.
Here He says …but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
This is the God I know, a God of love! He knew no one could ever keep His commandments—perfectly—so He had a plan to send His Son to take the punishment for our sins.
It is a great gift to us. He suffered and died and we are given a gift of forgiveness and living with Him in heaven forever.
We should take God's Word seriously, take it to heart.
God wants our full devotion.
God wants all our love.
God wants us to respect Him.
What has happened in our land? We mourn for days gone by. Reflect on the last half century and what do we find? Respect has continued to decline.
Think of what could happen in our nation if we took more time to show respect to others.
Think about the good of building one another up instead of tearing one another down.
Think of all the positives that could come as we share God's never-ending love with one another.
Think of all the possibilities! But don't just think about them, try them, join in the joys of loving God's love and respect.
Join in as we grow in sharing His blessings.
The Rev. Kendall Schaeffer is pastor of St. Trinity Lutheran Church.