By Pastor Mike Neu, St John’s Lutheran Church
Contributing Writer

A shrine sits alongside a busy roadway. It is dedicated to a young man who lost his life running across that road rather than playing it safe and walking to the next corner and crossing with the light.

Too often people make bad choices because we don’t want to be told what to do. We rebel against authority. Traffic lights are one example of authority holding us down and people will avoid them when possible to avoid being repressed in our actions. “You can’t tell me what to do. Just watch.”

Men have rebelled against being told what to do since Adam and Eve. Satan convinced Eve that no real harm would come from eating the forbidden, and Adam did nothing to stop her from making the decision to try a bite. “I’ll do as it pleases me.”

Men do not want to obey God any more than they want to obey any other rules, but if we call ourselves Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, those laws are there to show us our sinful ways.

The Lutheran theologian, Martin Marty, answering the question of whether Christians must obey God’s Law, wrote, “Yes, indeed, always yes. Christians cannot conceive of being half-serious in giving commands.”

Marty continues, “In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is quoted as giving the command to ‘be perfect,’ [Matthew 5:48]. He did not say ‘I would like to whisper a hint in the form of a suggestion that might be seconding a motion that you try to be a bit better than you were before you heard this command.’”

Jesus expanded the commandments. In the fifth chapter of Matthew, he says “You have heard it said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement,” Matthew 5:21.

Jesus raised the bar. He would go on to say that a married person looking at someone, other than your spouse, with lust is committing adultery. A man who divorces for reasons other than unfaithfulness causes the ex-wife to be an adulteress.

We should love our enemies. If someone strikes your cheek, do not strike back, but offer the other cheek. Give to the needy without expectation of reward or honor.

These are just a few laws Jesus gave us with a higher expectation than simple obedience to the Ten Commandments. The expectations of Jesus chafe at us as men.

We do not like being told what to do, then Jesus comes along and adds to the burden, in our minds and hearts. Yet, if we would only stop fighting authority and submit, allowing ourselves to accept God’s love and work to dwell in it, keeping God’s Law doesn’t seem so onerous.

We don’t have to live constantly insisting on taking chances crossing the road of life. Accept that living in God’s Law will make our life easier and safer. Then we will have God dwell in us and we in him.

The Westside Express