Friday, May 4, 2012

The Letter of the Law

A man was sitting on the train on his way home from work, drinking a beer. During the trip, a transit officer asked the man if he knew that it was an offence to consume alcohol on public transport. He further advised him that if he did not have a lid to seal the bottle, it would have to be confiscated. Finally this wicked man who so obviously posed a massive threat to public safety was issued with an on the spot fine for his heinous act.

In the same carriage, another man was sitting with his feet on the seat in front of him, underneath a sign which asked passengers to refrain from that very act. The enthusiastic transit officer also fined him before moving on to wake another unsuspecting passenger from his peaceful slumber in order to check whether he had a valid ticket. When unable to comply, Rip Van Winkle was fined, as was a fourth person; a woman who committed the same evil crime.

After the officer left to continue his carnage in the next carriage, bitter complaints and personal insults were thrown at his back but he was oblivious. After all, he was only doing his job: enforcing the law. Sure the officer in question could have shown a little mercy and given warnings instead, but you could bet your house on the fact that these people had all been guilty of these offences before, and probably had already received warnings. Their decision to ignore the warning left them vulnerable.

A parking officer once wrote me an infringement notice even though I moved my car two hundred metres down the road within the designated time limit. The officer stood in court and said that he did not notice the car was not in the same position when he returned after marking the tyre earlier, only that it was still in the same street. The magistrate conceded that I may have moved my car, but I was still guilty of breaking the spirit of the law.

I'm very glad that God does not operate in the same way as these earthly enforcers of rules and regulations. For those who choose to receive the gift of salvation, there is only forgiveness and grace. The penalty for sin has already been paid.

1 comment:

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