My Idiot Brother Keeps Putting His Foot on My Side

November 1, 2008

So, this post doesn’t have a thing to do with Halloween, Reformation Day, All-Saints Day, or anything relevant to today. It’s just what I was thinking about today. That’s how I roll.

Today, I was contemplating the great times I had with my family when my brother and I were kids and we went on family vacations. Mostly, these vacations consisted of going to see the grandparents, who lived several hours away. We went on only a couple of real vacations, but those are another story.

Now, with two boys sitting in the back seat of a car (no minivan, something I’m very proud of my parents for in hindsight) with a small dog and several items to keep us occupied, space was at a premium. There wasn’t a lot of room for stretching out. Naturally, we did what any civilized eight year olds would do. We drew an imaginary line down the middle of the car, which neither of us was allowed to cross or allow our stuff to cross on threat of severe penalty.

And naturally, the line was always crossed. One of us would feel the need to stretch out, or my brother’s stupid stuff would fall over the line into enemy territory. This breach of personal space was always quickly met with a punch in the arm. Then a quarrel would briefly break out, causing Dad to yell at us. He always addressed us as ‘boys,’ although I always contended that he should be addressing just my brother, as he was the always the culprit.

So we’d return to our sides, not touching each other. One would go back to his book or game. But something would stir in the corner of his eye. He would turn to find a finger pointed at him, less than two inches from his face.

“Not touching. Can’t get mad.”

Of course, the phrase ‘can’t get mad’ never really seemed to work, as this phrase always incited carnal rage. We’d pull this on each other, following the letter of the law our Dad had laid down but not the spirit of the law. The spirit of the law was to sit down, shut up, and keep your mitts to yourself for the rest of the trip. We chose to simply ‘not touch each other.’

Thus we felt we were righteous for following instructions, even while inflicting delicious suffering on each other. Jesus chided the Pharisees for trying ever so hard to follow the letter of the law, but always missing the spirit of the law. Now Christians are under the New Covenant, where there is no law, but we find ourselves often in a similar situation on the other side of the fence. It is easy to throw out the law, but what we forget is that many of God’s laws still have relevant life applications today. We ignore the spirit of the law, because we believe we are not under the letter of the law.

What rules have I throw out in my lust to ‘assert’ myself as a free man of Christ?