Sunday, July 17, 2016

Missing the mark--by Linden Malki

Sooner or later, we all miss the mark. Just wanting something really badly does not automatically make it OK. Thinking that you know everything does not mean you are right. Not bothering to find out what is really going on doesn't mean you're on the right track. Actually, that's not a bad example--making great time on the wrong train or the wrong freeway doesn't get you where you need to be.

We live in an imperfect world--and we supply quite a lot of the imperfection. God, for His own reasons, allows us an amazing amount of choice. We want to be like God and know right from wrong, but it's more challenging than we realize. The existence of "law" and rules, and the possibility of "freedom" get us all tangled up. In the political world, there are two basic attitudes about law: one is that the law tells us what is permitted, and the other, that the law tells us what is forbidden. What we are seeing in the modern world is societies that include people who grew up with different attitudes about law and expectations; different ideas as to what is acceptable and what is not. There is also an attitude that law, of whatever type, doesn't apply to you. It may be that you don't respect law in general; or that your own wants and needs supercede law, or that the expectations of a culture other than the one where you now live apply to your situation.

The problem of disrespecting or ignoring law and/or legal expectations is that one way or another there are consequences. There may be enforcement by the justice situation in which you live. There may be social alienation. There may be natural or logical consequences to yourself and/or others. For example, ignoring traffic laws can lead to death or serious injury to yourself or others apart from the legal penalties. There may be retaliation. sometimes setting off a long chain of feuds and vengeance.
What we call "natural laws" are really descriptions of observed realities, and are self-enforcing. For example, gravity is self-enforcing, as are the "laws" of thermodynamics or electronics. These bite back without malice but can hurt--falling objects or hot stoves or damaged or misused wiring don't know or don't care who you think you are.

The principles received as God's Law also work like this--ignoring them can bite. Dishonoring God will throw our relationships with each other and with Him out of balance, and even if we don't face this world's justice, we will not have the best that God offers, and we will face consequences in this world or the next, or both.

The way out is the possibility of mercy and grace, sometimes by the social or legal authorities of this world. The best way out of the pickles that we make of our lives, though, is repentance--the recognition of the reality of the situation and the right of this world's system to judge, and most importantly, the right of God to have requirements and hold us to them. We can only hit the marks built into His Universe with His help and His mercy.

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