In applying for the visa, I had to submit a number of documents. From the week before, I spent my time gathering all documents except one, the bank statement of my personal funds. Instead, I thought I would bring the Canadian cash that I purchased as evidence that I had Canadian dollars for the journey. Instead of getting the exact documents that the High Commission required, I thought that I could discern the intent behind their asking for a bank statement of personal funds. In my head, the High Commission just wanted to ensure that I have sufficient money to enter the country and exit the country.
However, while awaiting at the High Commission in a line, it began to trouble me that I did not have the bank statement. In my head, the question lingered, "would they still issue me a Canadian Visa without a bank statement?"
With this question, I searched diligently in my bag for something else to substitute. The substitution documents included my three bank books, including a foreign currency bank book. (These however were not recently updated and would not meet the requirements in terms of dates).
The security checked my documents, and I stated that I did not have the bank statement, but had the literal cash to show. She said "No bank statement?" However, she said nothing else but directed me to where I was to go.
When I reached the Cashier/Receptionist, I restated my position. The lady looked through my documents and said:
You work at the university, Mr. Scale? When you ask for a transcript, would a school report do?
I stammered over that one, with a explanation "No.., but..."
"Just answer my question!" she remarked.
So I gave her the "No!"
She asked me if I read the information requirements accompanying the application. I said yes. She then gave me a copy, highlighting the personal funds portion. She even further stated that I could have borrowed the money, so having it in hand, was not sufficient for meeting the High commission's requirements.
That day, I felt like a fool!
Yet this story is a spiritual lesson. Just like how G-d has certain requirements, we cannot get away with substitutes.
This can be applied to salvation. If G-d says that in order for us to be saved, we need to believe in Jesus, there is no substitute. If G-d's requirement is for us to confess and put our faith in Jesus, you could be a good man, but you would not have met his requirements.
Just like how I have to meet all the requirements for the Canadian High Commission to give me entry into their land, if I want to gain entry to the land in the everlasting kingdom, then I too must ensure that I meet all the stated requirements.
The same goes for worship. If G-d commanded us to worship him a particular way, then we do not have the authority to decide that we know what G-d's intent was and substitute what he commanded for what we feel can be a suitable substitute. This may include the days or seasons of corporate worship (Sabbath-Sunday debate or the Feast Days versus Christmas and Easter debate). Do not get me wrong, I do not feel that Christians must worship G-d on only one day of the week or on special days, but rather, I understand that G-d has given a time for each purpose under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Thus I believe that we worship G-d when we do what he requires of us, in the time that he requires us to do it. So we work when we are commanded to, and rest when we are commanded to. We remember our Passover Lamb in the season that he commanded, and eat the bread and wine at that time and season, rather than whenever we feel like.
It is a matter of recognising who is in authority and who is subject to whom.
G-d likens his relationship with his people to marriage - husband and wife (Ephesians 5:22-33), where he stresses that the wife ought to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22). The woman should not do what she feels like in her marriage, disregarding her husband requests. Imagine if the wife decided to cook and prepare her husband a meal when she feels like, make love when she feels like and do her own thing whenever she feels like without regarding the husband's desires. That marriage would be in danger!
To note how serious this matter of following requirements are, consider that Jesus even told the parable of the King's Wedding Guests in Matthew 22. In Matthew 22:10-13 (King James Version), the story goes like this:
10So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
11And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
12And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
13Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Let us be cogniscant of the fact that we should not offer substitutes for G-d's requirements, but rather, submit unto G-d and do your best to meet his requirements according to your understanding. We may not understand what G-d requires, but do it all the same. Do not assume that you can discern the rationale behind his requirements. As the Scriptures say:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD (Isaiah 55:8).