I am now writing exclusively over at the Christians In Context blog. Click on this banner to be taken there!

Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
Looking for a church in the Omaha area? Come check out ours on Sunday mornings at 11!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Guilt and the Long Arm of the Law

How many times has this happened to you? You're talking to someone (or someone is talking to you) about Jesus and faith and one of you says something like "I'm mostly a good person, I've never killed anybody" or "Well, I try to be a good person, and I just hope that when I stand before God that my good deeds will outweigh my bad deeds". How does one continue in the conversation without making God out to be a spiteful and vengeful God who expects the impossible from all of us? I used the following analogy with a co-worker and it really seemed to hit home with him:

Imagine I am out driving one day and I decide to have a little fun. I run every stop light I come to, break the speed limit by a good 20 MPH, cause several accidents, and just generally ignore the traffic laws. Before long a police officer pulls me over and tells me he's been following me and saw the whole thing.

Do you think he would let me off the hook if I said "Well officer, I'm mostly a good driver, I've never killed anybody"? Do you think he'd be at all impressed if I said "When I stand before the judge I just hope all my good driving outweighs my bad driving and he'll let me off"? I doubt it (especially if he and the judge know every single driving violation I've ever committed).

It only takes one violation to be guilty of breaking the rules of the road, only one violation to give grounds for a ticket or a court appearance. If we are guilty, we either must pay the penalty or seek the pardon (grace) of the judge through the terms he has set.

It's often a hard pill for one to swallow when someone tries to tell them that just one sin makes them guilty, but this every day situation brings the concept down to earth. Understand, I am not saying you wouldn't hope for grace from the judge (and, indeed, that is what we have in Christ). My point is that we wouldn't consider the judge unjust for finding us guilty of the crimes we've committed. It is often too easy for many people to minimize the sin they have committed, and I've found this analogy really puts our guilt in terms that everyone can understand.

Note: An analogy cannot prove anything, only illustrate. If you find this analogy helpful, you still must argue for and support the position. If you find this a poor analogy (or disagree with the position) you still must construct an argument against it. A good analogy does not prove the validity of an argument or the truthfulness of a statement, just as a poor analogy does not prove an argument as flawed or a statement as false.

1 comment:

jamie L said...

Very nice illustration. Sadly, this is what most non- believers think when broached by the subject of heaven vs. hell, that good deeds alone will get you into heaven. Thats like me trying to get into a bar when I was only 20 by telling them that I wasnt going to drink. Didnt matter. I still wasnt 21 at that time.