by Joey Davis
The rain was pelting the pavement on the big dark road to a little country school. A basketball game was about to get underway, and my wife didn't intend to miss it.
As she pulled into the driveway of the old school, she noticed that right in front of the gymnasium doors were two empty parking spaces. When she got closer, she realized that they were reserved for handicapped drivers. Considering the fierce nature of the storm, and the fact that she was pregnant and had a small child (and no husband, I'm sorry to say) with her, she felt compelled to go ahead and park in the handicapped spot.
As Melissa got out of her car and tried to maneuver herself into a position to hold an umbrella under her chin, flex her torso over bulging midsection, and free our child from her car seat, an authority drunken security officer walked up behind her and said, "Ma'am, you can't park here. It's a handicapped zone."
On this particular night, Barney Fife messed with the wrong woman. My soft-spoken wife quickly stood, looked at the empty space beside her and then square off with "the law." "It's pouring rain, I'm nine months pregnant, and I have a screaming two-year old in the car: how handicapped do I need to be?!?" she asked. He didn't say a word. He just turned around and went back inside the gym. And my wife and kids went to the game . . . without changing parking spaces. ...The law kills but the spirit gives life.
Think about it. Handicapped spaces are for people who have special needs. The spirit of the law compels us to avoid parking in these spaces unless we have a real physical challenge. If people would live by this spirit, handicapped
spaces would be a workable and generous idea. But they didn't and that's when the law got involved. . . and messed things up even more! Now you must have a special license plate to park in these spaces. The system is often abused even by the ones who enforce it.
In Christianity, the same rules apply. We must live by the spirit of the law and be gracious enough to allow others to do the same. It is only when we have the character to live by the spirit of God's word that a congregation can experience. abundant life. Living by the spirit challenges us to deal with one another in the spirit of kindness and graciousness. Legalism will kill a church and create a system where grace is in short supply and abuse is the norm. Even the "keepers of the law" become guilty of abuse.
We must always remember that nobody can legislate kindness and graciousness. These come only from God living in us. When we live by the Spirit, our Christian lives will go more smoothly.
January 5, 1997
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