Many years ago, I said to my brother as we were going different directions, “Have a nice day!”
He kept on walking and muttered, “Don’t tell me what to do.” It stunned me for a moment, but then, I burst out laughing.
I still smile at that incident. He has always been known for his quick, dry wit.
But the sentiment he expressed in jest is actually lived out by many different people in different ways. Through words or actions they seriously convey, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
Individuals insist on doing things their way regardless of rules or regulations. Many laws have become suggestions only.
One such circumstance of which I was reminded recently was the issue of dogs/pets in restaurants and other public facilities. There seems to be a growing number of people who are insistent upon taking their pets with them, claiming they are service animals.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is a difference between “Service Animals” and “Comfort and Emotional Support” animals (https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm).
The law says service dogs, which have been intentionally trained to aid a person for a specific purpose, may be taken into any public place people may go. Pets that are considered “Comfort or Emotional Support” animals do not have the same legal standing.
The lines between the two seem to be getting more and more blurred as the days pass by. If one is legally questioned about the nature of their animal, a ruckus is sometimes made. There is, in essence, the sentiment of, “Don’t tell me what to do! I can do whatever I want.”
This caused me to think about the way some people react to the Bible. They know what it says about obeying God, what God expects from his people. And many respond, “Don’t tell me what to do!”
They tend to want to pick and choose those passages that fit their own desires. They don’t want to have to change anything about themselves.
And yet, we are called to change wayward behavior. We are called to follow God’s ways, even if it means adopting behavior vastly different than typically practiced.
As the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 New Revised Standard Version Bible)
We are called to a new way of living in Jesus Christ. We are called to obey and live the word of God. We are called to look beyond our own selfish desires and live what God desires and expects.
Let God tell you what to do, and do it. You will be glad you did.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.