Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Lawless Behavior Does Not Honor God

Judges 17:6

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

One of my favorite old movies – of all-time – is one starring Charles Bronson (the Death Wish Series). It was a movie about a lawless group of people who were corrupt and evil. They kept their community scared by their lawlessness and their violence. The actor that Charles Bronson played – and has played in many movies – was Paul Kersey. He wife and daughter had been brutally treated and killed by lawless persons and he became – in several movies – a vigilante. He began to bring order to a lawless area in his city.

While I don’t support vigilantes – he stood up against lawlessness when few would – if any. In the movies his efforts to stand up against lawlessness won him the admiration and support – eventually – of his neighbors and others in the community. Lawlessness is not the answer. Obeying the laws or working to change the laws – lawfully – is the answer.

In our society we see or hear about lawlessness all around us. In cities like Chicago and Baltimore – the murder rate is often higher than the number of days in any given year. I have a friend – a colleague in ministry – that reminds us often how many murders there are in Baltimore. Lawlessness is so hard to comprehend.

In our nation – we hear of lawlessness in politics all the time. Both parties claim the other has colluded with the Russians. The Uranium One situation may become the largest scandal and lawlessness of our generation.

Lawlessness is when we disregard laws and do our own thing. Today’s passage describes the people of Israel this way – Judges 17:6 – In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. The people had no ruler – no one to establish the laws (although they had God’s laws) – and so they did as they wished.

Although I wouldn’t call those who are being lawless in our denomination evil – there are those pastors – bishops – conferences and congregations (members) who are being lawless – disregarding the laws of the church. The Judicial Council – the ruling court of our denomination – has tried to bring clarity to the laws of the church (found in our Discipline) – but with little impact on the lawless ones. They seem bent on destroying the denomination (IMHO) – splitting her in two – as they disregard the process of law.

I know that some believe the law of the church to be wrong. I think some believe they are right and the law is wrong. The laws of the land have been wrong before and so have some of the laws of the church over the centuries. But there is a right way to oppose what one thinks is wrong. When Cassius Clay refused to be drafted – because his religious beliefs would not allow him to kill another human being – he faced the consequence of his objection. Cassius Clay – who later claimed the name Muhammad Ali – served time for his civil disobedience. I do not support his beliefs – but I respect his willingness to take the consequences of his lawless act.

Some today wish to change church law but do not seem willing to take the consequences of their disobedience to the current law. They are doing whatever they wish to do – even when they have taken vows to support the doctrine and polity and rules/laws of the church. I respect our bishop for expressing her personal belief – while supporting the current law of the church (read has comments here).

We see what happens when people do not obey the law. We see accidents when people do not stop for stop signs or red lights – doing what they wish (several accidents almost occurred last night as I was coming out of Baltimore as people ran red lights). We see the murders that mount when people wish to have their way over another person – against the laws of the land.

I pray for our society and our denomination. I pray that our laws would be right and sound. I pray that we would obey them or work to change them in a lawful way. When we don’t get our way – we should not simply do what we wish. We see what happens when we don’t agree with the laws or the results of an election. In the last election – when one side didn’t agree with the election results – the side that lost the White House has yet to accept the lawful results and are doing whatever they wish to disrupt our nation and presidency.

Without laws and adherence to the laws of the land – where would we be? Daniel – Shadrach – Meshach – and Abednego – didn’t like the laws of the land either – yet they yielded to God what was God’s and was willing to face the consequences of the law they opposed. When they lived in honor like this – God saved them – one from a Lion’s Den and three from a Fiery Furnace. God will protect us as well as we honor Him and the laws of the land.

This passage was written to Christians living in a non-Christian nation – one where they were being killed for their faith. God knows what is going on and will honor faithfulness. Romans 13:1–7 – 1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

I believe we are to be obedient to the laws of the land – and be prepared to take the consequences of our disobedience if we believe a law stands opposed to what we believe God’s law would say. If General Conference cannot be persuaded to believe as a certain group believes – they either need to keep trying to win the day at General Conference every 4 years while obeying the law of the church or consider leaving the denomination (lawlessness is not the answer).

Human sexuality is just the presenting issue here folks. The real issue is our disagreement over the authority and our understanding of the Bible. Are we able to interpret as we see fit in our setting – doing whatever we see fit – or is the Bible true for all time! Lawless behavior does not honor God!

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

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June 1, 2018 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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