Chaos When There Is No Law
When laws are not observed on the road, chaos is the result. These two stories demonstrate our need for God’s law.
In 1967 Sweden announced a new law that required drivers to change from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right-hand side. When the new law went into effect—it went, well, very badly. It was only a matter of a couple of hours before all traffic came to a chaotic standstill. Drivers were literally all over the place and were not at all on the same page as to how and where to drive.
A recent example
I was sitting reading a book in a store in Concord, New Hampshire, when suddenly the store lights went out. Since it was still daylight, I continued reading, assuming this was just a minor outage.
The lights flickered on and off a couple of times, then went out completely. Within a couple of minutes we were all asked to leave the store because they were closing. It became obvious this was a large power outage that had hit the area—it wasn’t just this one store. I started to drive to a meeting, and I quickly ran into problems because the traffic lights were out.
Rights of way
As many started to drive off—some trying to get on the freeway, others trying to weave their way across main roads whenever a gap in the traffic emerged—it was basically every man for himself. Some were driving very recklessly and driving as if they had the right of way.
Thankfully, I safely reached my destination, but what would normally have been a four-minute drive ended up taking 15 minutes!
As I watched
I parked and walked back to observe a major junction, and the selfishness was becoming so clear. It was getting more and more dangerous as drivers who were unsure about what to do edged their way onward in the direction they felt they had the right to go. Many refused to treat the intersection as a four-way stop and yield the right of way to other vehicles. Courtesy was quickly disappearing.
The police arrived
Within minutes, a policeman arrived and law enforcement began to sort things out. All traffic was stopped, and then policemen began to direct the flow of the traffic. It only took a couple of minutes before this major junction was working properly with little risk of an accident.
The lesson learned
For society or life to work at the most basic level, there must be laws and people who agree to live by those laws. The situation in Sweden demonstrated that if not everyone knows which side of the road to drive on—there is chaos! It would be chaos if an American visiting the United Kingdom insisted on driving on the right-hand side of the road, when everyone else drives on the left.
More than just traffic laws
In life, we have physical laws (such as driving laws) and penalties for breaking those laws (fines, jail time, etc.). It is obvious to even a child that these laws are necessary and need to be obeyed in order for society to work.
Just as traffic lights help monitor and control the flow of traffic on the roads, God’s laws enable us to monitor and control our lives. Yet, when it comes to moral laws, religions are all over the board! Even denominations that claim to be Christian do not all teach the same laws governing human conduct. (Consider, for instance, the differing views on the Sabbath.) Christianity has hundreds of differing denominations with various interpretations of the Bible.
Why so little agreement?
The Bible says much about law. The primary law governing human beings is found in Exodus 20—the 10 Commandments. Jesus reinforced this law: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). Jesus Christ kept the law perfectly; and as our loving Creator, He was willing to pay the penalty for all of our sin.
In Romans 7:7-8 Paul explained that the law defines what sin is. Paul used the example of coveting (lusting after something that isn’t yours). “For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Romans 7:7; see also 1 John 3:4). It is God’s law that teaches what is right and wrong—the difference between righteousness and sinfulness.
Just as traffic lights help monitor and control the flow of traffic on the roads, God’s laws enable us to monitor and control ourselves. Just as traffic laws bring order to the roads, God’s laws (when kept by all) will bring peace and order.
Your life can work better and be characterized by peace and order. The first step toward this kind of life is learning about each of God’s 10 Commandments in detail—and then beginning to apply them. We have prepared a booklet to help you do that. Please download our free booklet God’s 10 Commandments: Still Relevant Today.