There is a certain part of the drive home from my office that I always dread. It's not a particularly bad stretch of road. And there aren’t even many red lights. To be honest, traffic is never really that bad either. The problem is that this is a very open road, with very little traffic, AND A SPEED LIMIT OF 35mph. This makes very little sense to me, and I don't know that I will ever understand it.
We all have these roads. The road that we drive enough to know what the speed limit is, and also drive enough to know that it won’t ever be enforced or obeyed (with the exception of a few old ladies). At any given time, the road I mentioned before has people going 50-60mph with no trouble whatsoever. So, when I get on this road I naturally do the exact same thing. We have even given this behavior a name. It's called, "going with the flow of traffic". In fact, I've thought several times about how the conversation might go if I happened to get pulled over on my way home. I imagine it'd go something like this, "Mr Howard, would you happen to know how fast you were going before I pulled you over?" Then I would reply, "Why no, Mr. Officer. I don't. I was just going with the flow of traffic." And then we would exchange pleasantries and he would send me on my way ticketless.
This sounds absurd, but this is exactly what all of us like to do. We like to justify our bad behavior and habits based on what those around us are doing. We like to excuse our wanting to speed based on the speeding of other people.
There's a saying that I'm sure we all heard from our parents in Jr High, "you are who you hang around". I know for me, this was definitely the case. What is acceptable to the company you keep will inevitably become acceptable to you.
This got me thinking, how many other times in life do I compare my actions to the actions of someone else? How much do I allow what my culture is doing dictate what my moral standards will be? Am I basing my standard of what is acceptable and unacceptable on the actions of man? Or is my standard truly something higher? Are my morals really based on something more?
If you are a follower of Christ, you are called to a higher standard. You're standard of perfection is no longer what this world tells you it is. In fact, perfection isn't even of this world. As a Christian, my standard of perfection is Christ. He is my moral compass. He is what to strive for, not what my culture tries to tell me is perfect. If we base our actions on those around us we have a problem. The problem is that my standard of holiness is no longer a perfect God; it is now a sinful and fallen man. This means that my view of perfection is no longer truly perfect. What is acceptable to me isn’t really acceptable at all.
None of us are perfect. We never have been, and on earth we never will become that way. This is one of the greatest things about being a Christian. We don’t have to be. When we trust in Jesus for our salvation we get what’s called “imputed righteousness”. Put simply, Christ puts His perfection on our account. Christ is the perfection that we could never be on our own.
When all is said and done it’s not about whether I go 35mph on that road or if I go 65mph. The real issue is why I find acceptable what I find acceptable. Do I think God loves me any less if I go over the speed limit? Of course I don’t. But if He isn’t the driving force that helps me make decisions based on HIS standards, then how can I say that I’m really following Him?