The 2010 Denzel Washington action-packed, based-on-true-events thriller Unstoppable* shows the devastating results of disobedience. In the movie, two yard workers need to move a half-mile long train to another siding. What should’ve been a simple job turns deadly when the men don’t follow standard railroad safety regulations. First, they don’t tie up the air brakes because they think doing so will mean unnecessary work. Second, one of the men puts the train in independent–on full throttle–and steps from the cab to pull a switch, thinking he’ll have plenty of time to climb back on. He doesn’t. The resultant chain of events causes major property damage, several injuries, and even death as others attempt to stop the runaway freight train-turned-missile (seven of its cars have toxic contents) barreling toward a string of Pennsylvania towns. All that mayhem is the result of two guys thinking they know better than those in authority over them.
Pretty senseless, huh?
But how often might you do something similar? Maybe you disregard the speed limit because you’re late for soccer practice. Or you ignore your parents’ instructions to go straight home after school because you’d rather hang out with friends. You dismiss your science teacher’s admonition to read chapter seventeen in your textbook because you’d rather play video games. And the list goes on, with varying consequences for your disobedience–a speeding ticket, getting grounded, failing a quiz, etc.
Often, though, disobedience affects more than just the disobedient person. For instance, let’s say your chore is to care for the family dog. You’re to feed him, clean up after him, and make sure he has a full bowl of clean water at least three times a day. While you do feed him and occasionally scoop poop, the water thing seems a bit much. Sure, you give him water in the morning, but why should you have to go out right after school to give him more? That quarter inch of semi-clean liquid should do him fine until you get around to feeding him in the evening, right?
But then the dog gets sick from days of insufficient clean water, and your parents have to take him to the vet. What are the consequences then? Say the dog dies, costing your family a guardian and friend. What if the money spent on the vet bill was supposed to go elsewhere, like your soccer camp or (worse yet) your little sister’s ballet lessons, and now there’s no money to pay for those activities? Say your dad intended to replace the bald tires on his work truck, but now he can’t. What if one of the tires blows while he’s driving to work, causing him to lose control of the vehicle and hit an oncoming minivan…?
Extreme? Maybe. Or maybe not. The point is, when you choose to disobey clear instructions from your parents and others in authority over you, you create difficulties for yourself and others. Just like the two railroad workers in Unstoppable did for so many people in Pennsylvania that fateful day.
God has placed parents and other authority figures in your life for your good and the good of those around you. When you disrespect them by disobeying their rules, you disrespect God and reap the negative consequences, often bringing others down with you. However, when you honor those in authority by obeying their rules, you honor God and reap the positive consequences, often sharing those blessings with the people around you.
*Unstoppable is rated PG-13 for language and action peril. Be sure to seek your parents’ permission before watching this movie.