For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. (1 Thess. 4:2)

Denver destroyed by nuclear blast! That was the climax of Atomic Train, a 1999 NBC miniseries. In the fictional story, the brakes failed on a train loaded with hazardous materials, including a nuclear bomb bound for disposal. The train’s crew and emergency responders tried desperately to stop the runaway train, but in the end, it wrecked and the bomb detonated, blowing the Mile High City sky-high!

Unrealistic? Sure. But what stood out to me from the miniseries was that every time a character ignored orders and tried to do something heroic, it backfired and made matters worse. The road to disaster was paved with broken protocols.

That message runs counter to much of what our culture teaches. We’re told that rules are for the small-minded—we need to break free and do what we believe is best for us. Unless we’re careful, we’ll carry that attitude into our Christian lives, too. We’ll constantly quote “Judge not!” and stress the difference between Old Testament law and New Testament grace.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the church he’d planted in Thessalonica, he didn’t play our game. He gave his converts instructions on “how to live in order to please God” (v. 1). Grace puts and keeps us on the right track. But if we ignore God’s gracious guidelines, we’re on the fast-track to disaster.

Check your attitude toward God’s instructions.

Jerome Van Kuiken grew up in the Philippines as the child of missionaries. He teaches Bible, theology, and apologetics at Oklahoma Wesleyan University and serves in the children’s ministry at his local church.

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.