Staff Corner – Greg Spires - Teaching Pastor
The city of London has a section that has been designated as a Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ). Within the CCZ, a charge is levied for every automobile that is driven during specified hours. The fee is an effort to reduce traffic congestion and noise within Central London. The fee to drive in the CCZ is about $20 each day.
The State Department of the United States has numerous diplomats that drive through the CCZ each day in their work at the U.S. Embassy in London. However, the U.S. (like most foreign embassies in the U.K.) do not pay the Congestion Charge because of Diplomatic Immunity. Diplomatic Immunity (formalized by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in 1961) means that diplomats are not subject to prosecution under local laws.
Even though diplomatic immunity applies, the U.K. continues to issue citations to diplomats for their failure to pay the Congestion Charge. And, as you might expect, the United States continues to refuse to pay the fines. As of 2016, the U.K. had almost 90,000 citations outstanding for U.S. Diplomats driving in the CCZ. The outstanding fines for those violations are nearly $14 million!
Why doesn’t the U.S. pay the fines? The U.S. doesn’t deny there is a law regarding a fee assessed to drive in the CCZ. The issue is the U.S. believes the law doesn’t apply to U.S. diplomats.
The question of whether the law applies or not is like what the Bible teaches about the law and righteousness in Romans. Romans 3:19-20 says, “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
We learn here that the law is written for those who are under the law. Not only that, but we are told that no one can be justified (made right before God) by works of the law. Why? Because the law doesn’t bring righteousness, it reveals sin. The law wasn’t written to bring to light those who are good. The law reveals only those who break it, which the Bible says is everyone.
There is good news. Colossians 2:13-14 says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Jesus fulfilled the law and nailed its requirements to the cross. As a result, those who are in Christ by faith are no longer under law. Like those U.S. diplomats, we don’t deny that there is a law, but it just doesn’t apply to us anymore.
Does that mean we can do whatever we want? Here we find another similarity to diplomats. Local laws do not apply to diplomats; however, diplomats willingly represent their country out of loyalty and devotion. In Christ, we are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). The law doesn’t apply to us; however, we live our lives to bring our King glory out of love and devotion.
We don’t obey Jesus to have righteousness. Instead, we obey Him because we love Him and are loyal to His kingdom.
It is such a relief to know that we don’t have to follow a set of rules and regulations to have a relationship with God. It should fill us with joy to know that Jesus willingly took the requirements of the Law onto His own shoulders. He obeyed where we could not. He persevered where we wavered. He endured where we were fickle. He took the requirements of the Law to the cross and said, “It is finished.”
How do we love and honor a savior like Jesus? We submit our lives to Him as an act of worship. We look at the time God has given us, the relationships He has granted, and the opportunities He has placed in our hands and ask, “How can I worship my savior with these?”
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Romans 3:1-20.
Praying with you,