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Several years ago, I had an unforgettable run-in with law enforcement. I was driving with my best friend down Pacific Coast Highway when a patrol car hit its siren and lights and signaled me to pull over. The officers approached my car, indicated that they suspected us of driving with open alcohol containers, ordered us to sit on the curb, and searched our car. Youâ..ll never guess what they found.Â
To fully appreciate this story, you need to understand that I was a fairly new teenage driver who had been reared in a tea-totaling family. My friend and I were headed to an end-of-school luau in Corona del Mar with a 32-gallon Coleman container of steamed rice. And the air conditioner on my 1980 Honda Accord leaked like a sieve.Â It was the leak that the police noticed first. Then they noticed my friend frantically rummaging through his backpack on the floorboard. When they pulled us over, they also noticed the Coleman.
One of the officers asked me, â..Do you have any alcohol in the car?â.Â
â..I donâ..t drink,â. I replied. Why would I have any alcohol if I didnâ..t drink?
He asked the same question again. I gave the same reply.Â
He asked the same question a third time with a bit more of an edge in his voice. I finally realized that he didnâ..t know that tea-totaling teenagers wouldnâ..t be transporting alcohol, so I said, â..No!â.Â
At that point, he asked if I would permit him to search my car. I didnâ..t have anything to hide, so, while the second officer escorted us to the curb, he proceeded to do so. When he saw the Coleman, he thought he had me dead to rights.Â
â..Whatâ..s in the Coleman?â. he asked.Â
â..Steamed rice,â. I replied.Â â..Mind if I look?â.Â
â..Go, right ahead!â. I said cheerfully.Â
As steam poured out the hatchback of my Honda Accord, even this poor officerâ..s partner laughed at him. It turns out that they thought we were dumping beer out a hole in the floorboard of the passenger seat. Thatâ..s why they were suspicious of my leaky air conditioner and frantically rummaging friend. After explaining this, the officers let us go.Â
Why do I tell you this story? Because at the heart of Christianity is an accusation against us that God himself has refuted. Romans 8.33 puts it this way: â..Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.â. I didnâ..t fear the police officersâ.. suspicions or accusations because I knew I had done nothing wrong. Unfortunately, in our long careers as sinners, we have done plenty wrong. But through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has justified us. He has made us righteous. No charge against us can stick because God himself has made us innocent.
Over the years, my friend and I have laughed about our brief run-in with the law. But that laughter is nothing compared with the joy of knowing that through Jesus Christ, the charges against our sins have been dropped and weâ..re free to go.