Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.
So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
- Romans 7:1-6
I have been on the road for days. I was finally back into the groove of writing. I had written three short posts in one day. So, with the pressure off, I thought I would treat my wife to a leisure drive along roads that we had not travelled. I went out on my own the next morning for a haircut. But then, my wife went from a small “head cold” to bronchitis, and I spent the bulk of the rest of the day taking her to the doctor and then to the pharmacy. The next day was her scheduled grocery shopping day. I drove. She also needed to go to the clinic to drop off a home-collected lab sample. Since she was not feeling well, I did the grocery shopping. That was an adventure in itself.
But each day, we saw bizarre traffic violations beyond the usual Pittsburgh madness of being in the right turn lane and turning left, cutting off people in three other lanes. That kind of thing happens so often, it is not newsworthy, sad to say.
On the first day, we took our pleasure trip, but ended the trip by going to get a few things at the wholesale warehouse store. We needed to make a left turn, but then a right turn after that. There were two left turn lanes. We got into the right one, being prepared. As we sat at the traffic light, a car approached in the far-left lane. He stopped, looked both ways (no traffic at all), and then he did a U-turn.
My wife said, “Did you see that? He ran the red light!”
I replied, “Yes, and he maneuvered around the sign stating no U-turn. I had my eye on the guy, because I saw through the rearview mirror that he had run the red light at the previous intersection.”
We simply laughed.
Then, while waiting for the barber to arrive and unlock the barbershop the next morning, I noticed that a school bus was parked, receiving children in front of the bank at the far end of the strip mall from the barbershop. Red lights were flashing on the school bus, but I pulled into a parking spot, far away. I began to read a book, but, immediately, I was disturbed by honking. At first, it was a few sharp taps on the horn. When I looked up it was a steady blast of the horn. A woman, who had dropped her child off, backed into the school bus, containing her child. The only thing damaged on the school bus was the safety arm giving you warning that children would be injured if you kept going. The point was that the woman kept going. That is until the bus driver made the steady blast of the horn. I watched as the woman finally stopped backing and returned to her parking place. She rested her head on the steering wheel for a minute or so, either crying or laughing. You would think that she was crying for her own child, who she could have injured by her actions, but no. A passenger in the car, also clueless, hopped out of the car and saw that the scratch on the back of the minivan was not that bad. The driver could care less about her carelessness, recklessness and the possible injury to her own child. Those were not her fears. She was afraid her husband would get upset for her wrecking the car. With a bent safety arm, the school bus driver drove away. I guess his delivery schedule was more important than reporting an accident.
People talk about how deaths of children due to leaving them in a hot car can happen to anyone, because we are too stressed out these days. We forget our children due to the stress. I find that nonchalant attitude to be unacceptable. I also disagree with their reasoning. Stress may play a factor, but we are too self-absorbed. This woman was too interested in what she was about to do next. She could not wait for the bus to drive past her, taking her child to school. She had to back out of her parking space immediately to satisfy her own desires.
Then on the third day of driving around, we were on our way to the clinic for a drop-off before I went grocery shopping (while my wife rested in the café area). I drove through an intersection on a green light. A lady driving a minivan pulled in front of me – correction, almost into me – turning right off the side road. She had the right to turn right on red, but only if the traffic was clear. I was not just approaching; I was already there. If I had not acted fast in stopping, she would have hit us. As it was, she only had inches to spare.
Then my wife said, “Did you see the guy? He was not very pleased.”
You see, in her zeal to get in front of me (or was it to crash into me), she bumped a pedestrian who was walking in front of her at the time. He remained standing, not much of a bump, more of a glancing blow. He made some angry gestures, probably saying some choice words to a van too far away to hear, but he looked to be okay.
The Apostle Paul starts Romans 7 with a reminder that as a Christian, when we die, we are not held by the Law. Our sins are washed away. BUT, while we are still alive, we have laws to live by.
The driver who ran two consecutive red lights and made an illegal U-turn harmed no one, but it was not his call to make. The woman who damaged a school bus filled with school children, including her own, was acting in a careless manner and should have been required to pay for the damages. The woman who hit a pedestrian while seemingly trying to hit our car was extremely lucky to not have a charge of vehicular homicide charged against her.
But what does Paul go on to say in Romans 7 about himself, after the portion that is quoted above? He does what he ought not to do. He does not do what he ought. We are all sinners and we should thank God daily that we will not be held accountable by God for our sins. (There is still that threat on earth of getting pulled over by the police.) Jesus paid the debt for our sins. Praise the Lord that Paul follows a discussion of our inability to keep from sin with a discussion of Grace in Romans 8.
Accordingly, we should not live a legalistic life, focusing on God’s laws that need to be followed, while sacrificing a robust relationship with Jesus Christ who paid the price for those sins, those violations of the Law.
But as the Apostle Paul starts off Romans 7, while we are still on this earth, we have laws that we need to follow. Those laws, for the most part, are there to maintain order and provide safety. Let’s at least try to make an effort.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.