A Christian, a Jew, and a Buddhist All Walked Into a Bar...

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, March 7, 2015 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

A Christian, a Jew, and a Buddhist all walked into a bar… when they regained consciousness, they found an atheist lying next to them, but facing the other direction.

Okay that was meant to be funny and “punny” at the same time. But it was also meant to illustrate a point.

The athiest claims there is no god – which is why he was walking the other direction. The Buddhist claims he is god, since god is in, through, and not separate from all created things, and he his happy to be in the company of other spiritual people. The Christian claims to walk in the fulfillment of God’s promise of relationship and destiny for humanity. And the Jew claims to have had God reveal his moral law, teachings, and character through his heritage and ancestry.

Despite their beliefs, and any sense of “status” or importance because of their experiences or ideologies, all of them were knocked out by walking into the bar. They all were walking, they all have their own belief system, and regardless of what they believe none of them are exempt from the physical or moral laws of the universe.

In Romans 3:1-20, Paul makes a very simple, yet powerful point. No one has special status before God just because of his or her heritage or life experiences. Even though God chose to reveal Himself and His teachings (laws) through the Jewish people, and even though He does express a special appreciation for the Jewish people, their lives are subject to the same physical and moral laws as everyone else. Although their history and the very fabric of their culture expresses the law of God, it only expresses the law – it does not make them exempt or help them keep it. Because of God’s work through the Jewish people, everyone has the opportunity to know God’s teachings and understand the moral laws that should govern our lives and help us be right with God. But none of us are exempted or specially equipped to live right before God, just by learning what His teachings say. In other words, reading the Bible, even memorizing it, doesn’t make us a good person or allow us to stand blameless before God.

Read the passage for some pretty pointed ways in which Paul makes this clear. Then zero in on verses 19-20: “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh is justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”

No one is exempt from God’s moral law any more than they are exempt from the law of gravity. We can ignore it, defy it, and theorize about alternate methods of establishing moral bearing. We cannot escape it. And to extend the analogy a bit further – knowing about gravity only tells me why things fall to the ground, and affirms that I am a captive of gravity’s pull; it doesn’t cause gravity to cease to apply to me. Likewise, knowing God’s Word and His teachings only makes us aware of our sin and our resistance toward Him.

Even if we tried to keep every aspect of God’s Word and tried to be perfect, our efforts to try and satisfy and live out God’s teachings will only make us aware of how inadequate and prone to rebellion we really are. It is great to try and keep the laws of our community, the laws of our country, and even God’s law. But one truth smacks us all in the forehead at some point – no one is perfect, and no one can keep all the laws perfectly.

The question is, when we come to our senses, will we recognize that we walked into a bar? Will we be open to learning why the bar was there and how we should have been walking so that we wouldn’t smack into it? Will we awaken to the fact that there was a voice that was graciously trying to warn us, and we weren’t listening?

What about you? Are you willing to see where you are running counter to God’s law and be open to a new way of living? Are you relying on your outward efforts to try and satisfy God and be accepted by Him? Are you ignoring God and simply charting your course in life by what others say? Read on in a couple weeks. We’ll take a look at how we can stand blameless before God.