by Mike Benson
Michael Shekleton was driving through Charles City, Iowa …
Perhaps driving is not the appropriate word. Flying might better describe his two-wheeled endeavor. The local speed-limit signs displayed “30 MPH,” but Shekleton’s motorcycle was traveling as much as 123 miles-per-hour!
A Floyd County sheriff’s deputy tried to stop Shekleton on Saturday night, July 18, 2009, for a local traffic violation. Shekleton didn’t yield to the officer’s request and a 20-minute high-speed pursuit ensued.
The authorities eventually caught up with the offending motorcyclist as he attempted to hide behind a downtown building. Shekleton was charged with excessive speeding, 14 counts of failure to obey a stop sign or signal, unsafe passing and driving on the wrong side of a divided highway.
Let’s imagine that we were witnesses to Shekleton’s capture in Charles City. Officers cornered him and demanded he give himself up. And just as they were about to handcuff him and place him under arrest, Shekleton sincerely asked, “Is there some sort of problem, officers?”
“Problem?! Problem?!,” one of the deputies exclaimed. “Mister, you were driving 93 miles over the speed limit! You could have killed somebody! We’re taking you to jail!”
But then Shekleton objected in an agitated voice, “What?! You guys can’t take me to jail! I interpret the speed-limit sign one way, and you interpret it another. All of us could be right. How fast I drive my motorcycle is a matter of personal choice and preference! Thirty miles an hour to you is 123 miles an hour to me. It’s a purely subjective choice.”
I know what some of you are thinking, “Mike, you are being ridiculous,” and I would agree.
Anybody knows that when the local authorities post a speed-limit sign, they expect that those citizens who drive can not only read it, but can understand it alike.
Different people can’t read the same speed limit sign and travel totally different speeds, and all be right. A 30 MPH speed-limit sign communicates an objective truth which is not open to personal taste, fuzzy feelings, hairs standing up on the back of our neck or individual interpretation.
Intelligent people recognize that we can (and must) all read the same sign and know for certain that there is a correct speed and an incorrect speed. And any acceleration in a 30-mile zone that exceeds 30 miles per hour is unlawful.
Oddly enough, we often hear this kind of unbalanced thinking in a different context today. People say, “You have your interpretation of the Bible, and I have mine. What I believe, and how I live, is a matter of personal choice; you can’t condemn my beliefs or behavior! Both of us could be right.”
It doesn’t make much sense, does it? The Bible is not some sort of work of art to be evaluated on some personal level. It is objective truth.
The Bereans in Acts 17 understood this principle. The record says, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica in that they searched the Scriptures daily — WATCH IT (mb) — to find out whether these things were so” (v. 11).
If the Bible was meant to be understood on a purely individual level and not interpreted in a uniform fashion, then how could the Berean brethren have been able to determine if any teaching was wrong or not? (cf. Matthew 22:29; Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:2; 2 Peter 2:1ff).
Let’s think about this in a practical way: When someone says, “You believe baptism is essential, but I believe it is not essential,” can both of us be right? (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21),
When someone says, “You believe homosexual behavior is wrong, but I believe it is right,” can both of us be correct? (Romans 1:26ff; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19ff).
When someone says, “You believe mechanical instruments in worship are not permitted, but I believe they are permitted,” can both of be in harmony with God’s revealed will? (Leviticus 10:1-2; 1 Kings 12:25ff; Colossians 3:16; John 4:24).
When someone says, “You believe a few alcoholic drinks over a lunch meeting is condemned, but I believe that they are not condemned,” can both of us stand blameless before the Lord? (Isaiah 28:7; Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-30, 33; Levitcus 10:9-11; Habakkuk 2:5, 15, 1 Timothy 3:2,3).
When someone says “You believe a person who commits adultery is not free to remarry, but I believe someone who commits adultery is free to remarry,” can both interpretations be right? (Matthew 19:9; Romans 7:2-3).
When someone says, “You believe that abortion is murder, but I believe it is a choice,” can both of us stand justified before the Savior? (Proverbs 6:16ff).
When someone says, “You don’t believe in the millennial reign of Jesus, but I think he will rule in his kingdom on earth for 1,000 years,” can we hold two totally different doctrinal viewpoints and be right in the eyes of the One who authored the Bible? (Mark 9:1).
When someone says, “You believe that 123 miles per hour in a 30 mile speed zone is wrong, but I believe it is perfectly acceptable” can both ideas be right? (Romans 13:1ff).
The issue is not, “Who is right?” The issue is, “GOD IS RIGHT!” and he expects us to understand (Ephesians 3:4; 5:17) and obey (Hebrews 5:8-9) the objective truth (John 16:13) he has revealed (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21) in his Word.
by Mike Benson