Staff Corner – Greg Spires - Teaching Pastor
A commuter was standing at her usual bus stop waiting for the bus to arrive. Like most of the other commuters standing with her, she looked at the news on her phone to pass the time. Finally, the bus arrived, and everyone filed on and found a place to sit or stand.
As time passed, she looked up from her phone and noticed the bus wasn’t on its usual route. She dismissed the concern, assuming that there must be street work the bus was avoiding. But her concern soon returned as she noticed the bus wasn’t making a detour; it was going the wrong direction. A few more minutes went by, and now she noticed they were now in a section of town far from her intended destination.
Her mind was spinning when she noticed the placard marking the bus route hanging at the front of the bus. Instead of the usual Route 16, the placard said, “Special.” She asked one of her fellow passengers about the route and discovered this bus was a dedicated route taking a group of out-of-town commuters to the campus of a large company on the other side of town. She hadn’t been paying attention when she got on the bus and assumed it was her own. Now, she was on the wrong side of town, going to a company she didn’t work for.
Everything about the bus seemed right. It looked like the right bus. It started in the right direction. Even the inside looked right. But there was one big problem with that bus: It wasn’t going to the right destination.
Those who seek to have a relationship with God based on following religious laws and rules will find themselves in the same situation: going in the wrong direction. It seems right. It looks right. And at first, it feels like it is going in the right direction. But soon, it is discovered that rule-following doesn’t lead to God like it is thought.
Notice what the Bible says in Romans 2:17-22. It says if we rely “on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?”
The problem with following rules to try and have a relationship with God is that rule-following doesn’t change our heart. Sure, for a time, we might have some self-control to restrain ourselves from doing wrong. But inside, we are the same. On the outside, we do right and tell others to do right – but inside, we are a storm of selfishness, pride, and appetites that would make us blush if they were known.
Religious obligation and rule-following are a bus that never leads to a relationship with God. They look and feel like the right bus, but they aren’t. They lead to the wrong destination, separation from God because rules cannot change our hearts.
So what are we to do? Get off the bus of religion and get on the bus of salvation through Jesus Christ. He alone can change our hearts and give us new desires. He alone can bring forgiveness through his sacrifice on the cross. His resurrection provides us with the power of new life to live in holiness from our hearts.
Christians also need to remember that God's power to work out His salvation in us is not the Law but the Spirit. We don’t become more like Jesus by following rules. We can’t help others become more like Jesus by giving them rules to obey. We become more like Jesus by the power of His Spirit, changing us from the inside out. We learn to live holy lives as an act of worship to God, who has already made us holy by the power of Jesus in our hearts.
Are you on the bus of rules and law? It is time to pull the cord and get out at the next stop. Instead, get on the bus the leads to the right destination. Trust Jesus and the power of His Spirit to change your heart.
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 2:17-29.
Praying with you,