I have received two speeding tickets in my life. (According to Murphy’s Law, I suppose I should add the caveat “so far.”) The first one was well deserved. I was driving back from a conference in Connecticut to my apartment in western New York. I’d stopped to visit my parents and left way too late. It was getting close to midnight, I still had two hours to go, and I was flying low along the New York thruway. When those blue lights pulled up behind me, no amount of tears was going to get me out of that ticket.
The second one was more recent. I was driving to the Indianapolis airport through that never ending construction on 465. As I merged onto the highway, I dutifully slowed down. A little. It was one of those stretches they had actually completed. All the lanes were open, traffic around me was still moving close to 65, and slowing down to 45 would have been suicide with traffic barreling down behind me. Then, as we came around the corner, there was a whole string of special patrols. I watched as an officer released the car he was done with and aimed his radar gun right at me. Here I was, trying to go slow, traffic passing all around me, and yet I was the one getting a ticket. (I was just a tiny bit upset.) But here’s the kicker. As unfair as this scenario seemed, the fact is: I was speeding. It didn’t matter that those around me were going even faster. It didn’t matter that slowing down would have gotten me run over. When it was me and the officer face to face, the only thing that mattered was how fast I was driving. The posted speed limit was 45; I was going faster than 45; I deserved a ticket.
It’s very easy when we are cruising along a highway to ignore the posted speed limit and go with the flow of traffic. It’s equally easy to cruise through life ignoring God’s commands and following the actions of those around us. But just as that officer did not care how my speed compared to everyone else, so God is not impressed with our relative position among humanity. When you are face to face with a speeding ticket, the only question is, “Did you break the law – yes or no?” And when you are face to face with God, the only question will be, “Did you break my law – yes or no?”
The Bible is very clear that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. None of us, by our own power, can perfectly obey the laws which God has set for us. But the law serves an important function. It is through God’s law that we become conscious of sin (Romans 3:20), and this awareness of sin shows us our need for Jesus.
When we use other people as our speed limit, we will always find those more sinful than us, and we will fail to see the depths of our own sins and our desperate need for a savior. But when we look to God’s speed limit, we can find both our weakness and our salvation. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Belief in Christ begins with a daily acknowledgement that we cannot obey God’s speed limit alone. We need to invite Jesus to become not just an occasional passenger, but the main driver of our life. It is only through belief in Jesus that on the day when our car is pulled over, God will shine His light in the window and instead of our sins, He will see the perfect life of Jesus. God will say, “The speed limit I set for you was to live as perfectly as my Son Jesus Christ.” Make sure He can continue: “I do indeed see Jesus Christ in you.”
Today, take your eyes off the people around you, and look instead at the example of Jesus. Invite Him to be your driver. There is no other way to obey God’s speed limit.
For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)