Last week was a rather long week and Friday afternoon I took advantage of the need to do some shopping to take my wife out to eat at a town about 20 miles up the road. We had a very enjoyable time together (and the food was good too!) and even found just what we needed at Wal-Mart (Which, as most regular Wal-Mart shoppers will tell you, is a surprise.). The topper for all this was a happenstance meeting with a couple of good friends while we shopped. My wife and I shared a wonderful 2-3 hours without any kids (a rarity for the parents of six!).
I had been musing all day about my next posting. I had considered the swine flu pandemic (is it or isn't it), the outrageous response of some in talk radio to the swine flu (yes, Michael Savage, I'm talking about YOU!), and the Chrysler bankruptcy. There were a great many things flowing through my mind when they were all erased by a car that very nearly flew by me on the interstate.
Please understand that cars passing me on the interstate is not normally something I take much notice of, unless accompanied by obscene hand gestures or flashing lights. This particular car was marked in such a way that I couldn't help but notice it. The car was prominently marked "Mayor of ______". I have every reason to believe that the driver of the car was none other than the mayor of our small city. He was traveling at a rate of speed that is usually reserved for emergency vehicles or NASCAR drivers. I was soon left far behind. By the way, my cruise control was set on 70mph.
By now you are no doubt wondering why I bother to mention this, after all, doesn't everybody speed? Isn't the mayor an important person? Surely he had some important business to tend to. While I'm sure that the mayor (or whoever was driving his car) had a very good reason to be attempting to achieve "warp speed" I am troubled by the incident all the same.
Why? The mayor of our fair city receives quite a bit of press coverage, most of it by his own design. Some months ago he had a very public (all of his actions seem to be public) dust up with the acting chief of police. It seems that the mayor was attempting to coordinate police investigations. This in spite of the fact that the mayor is not a police officer. When questioned about his involvement he replied that as mayor he was the "chief law enforcement officer" for the city and as such he was free to do so.
I have no desire to debate the merits, or lack of, of the mayor's position. My concern is the blatant disregard that the "chief law enforcement officer" of my city had for the law of the state of Mississippi. My question is this: Do the laws of the land apply to those who are elected to uphold them? A speeding mayor may seem to be inconsequential, but I for one don't happen to believe that it is. A mayor, or police officer, who disregards the law is not fit for office.
Turning this line of thought to the church (I have a funny way of doing that, I know) the implications are obvious. If the pastor, deacon, Sunday School teacher is free to disregard the word of God or the accepted guidelines that are in place for their local church, who is to stop anyone else from disregarding the same? Baptists hold very strongly to the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. This doctrine holds that all men and women are equally free to approach God without the need for a human mediator. Yet even the most ardent supporter of this doctrine will readily agree that the word of God is the ulitmate guide for the operation of the church and the qualifications of its leadership.
So what does a speeding mayor have to do with how a church operates? Very simply, there has to be accountablility to some higher authority if there is to be any sense of decency and order in how our society and churches function. If the laws of the state are of no consequence to a mayor and the Bible is of no consequence to a church or denomination there is no end to mischief that can follow. How very interesting is the similarity between the disintegration of our society and the abandonment of biblical authority for the believer and the church.
Until next time, I'm the guy with his cruise control set at the speed limit.