The 80s heavy metal band Judas Priest had a hit song, “Breaking the Law,” in 1980. I find the tune to be irritatingly catchy. And the music video is a riot. The band “breaks the law” by robbing a bank, not with guns, but with their guitars and bad hair.
Seriously, you have to check out this music video. It will change your life (but not necessarily for the better).
It’s a weird transition to go straight into a theological commentary on the apostle Peter, but I’ll give it a try.
In Acts 10, Peter has a vision and is compelled by the Holy Spirit to visit a Roman centurion, Cornelius, a God-fearing man. Remember, for Peter, a Jew, this was a big step. The very early church believed that one had to be a Law abiding Jew before one could be a follower of Jesus. Peter broke the law by baptizing Cornelius and proclaiming that God’s Kingdom was wide enough to encompass all people from all places.
In his report to the other disciples in Jerusalem, Peter says, “If then God gave Cornelius and his household the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” (Acts 11:17).
This has been a refrain repeated throughout the centuries. The Church, in all its frailty and insecurity, has always tried to exclude others and to draw narrow definitions of who is in and who is out. But God will not be hindered. Time and again those laws that we have constructed have been turned to dust. Peoples of all colors, of all races, of all backgrounds, both male and female, are included in God’s Kingdom.
God is breaking the law. We must not ask this question: “Is God’s Kingdom grand enough for all people to join it?” That question was answered by Christ and the Church’s loving inclusion of all people. The question is: “Do we have the faith to grab our guitars, let down our bad hair, and break the law with God?”