I had an evil professor when I was in college. It was Psychology 101 and it was the big midterm exam. The professor was adamant as he passed out the exams that we were to read and follow all directions.
The directions of the exam began by stating that there were more questions than we could possibly answer in the time allotted, that points would be given by the number of questions answered as well as the number answered correctly, and that before beginning to write our answers, we were to read all the directions and all the questions.
Many in the class obviously did not take heed and began furiously writing away. It was clear they hadn’t read all the directions, which would become obvious to me soon.
The directions were a full two pages in length and gave parameters for the appropriately answering the questions. They droned on for over half a page on how one should avoid a political slant in one’s answers. They gave guidelines for appropriate punctuation. There seemed to be no end to the specificity of these directions.
Finally, in a paragraph after the last question, they explained that this was an exercise in following directions and that we were to disavow all previous directions, write our name in block letters in the upper left had corner of the cover page, write our favorite color directly below our name, sit quietly until the clock read half past the hour, then turn the test in and enjoy the midterm break celebrating the perfect grade we would receive from following the directions.
At 30 Minutes past the hour, only two of us stood and brought our exams to the professor who smiled and gave us the “shhh” signal and pointed us toward the door.
Sometimes the directions, or rules, have a higher purpose and only when the higher purpose is reached can we understand why we needed the directions. Check out Paul’s description of the Mosaic Law’s purpose:
Until the time when we were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were carefully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic law. The law was like those Greek tutors, with which you are familiar, who escort children to school and protect them from danger or distraction, making sure the children will really get to the place they set out for. But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise. Galatians 3:23-27 The Message
Jesus brought about the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy in Jeremiah 31:32-33:
“This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” God’s Decree.
According to Paul, now “ by faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God” and our baptism in Christ makes us big boys and girls who no longer need the law to protect us from danger or distraction. Now Jesus does that. Our job is to act like the adults God dressed us up to be!
In my experience, to follow this type of direction, you have to pay even more attention!
Pressing on toward the goal . . .
P.S. I had a GREAT midterm break!