LAW AND GOSPEL
There has always been confusion between Law and Gospel. There are many who will take the Good News, and turn it into Bad News. They make the promises of God in the Gospel contingent on our keeping the Law rather than seeing that the Law is kept when we receive the promise of Gods grace to change our lives.
The Law demands that we make ourselves perfect by our own ego strength. The Gospel tells us that God knows that we cant do it, but He has opened a way we may walk with Him. It is a way wherein He will work the transformation that we are unable to work for ourselves.
Paul seems to feel that is the only way open because, "God has consigned all men to disobedience, in order that He might have mercy upon all." Rm 11:32 We cant. God can. He has invited us to let Him.
That does not mean that the Law will be eliminated. The Law is the description of life at its fullest. What it means is that the Law will be fulfilled when the Lord has completed His New Creation within us. The demand, "You must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect." may now be read as Gods promise to us. "We shall be perfect as He is perfect," when He has completed His work.
The Law becomes the ten symptoms of Sin within us. The Gospel proclaims the treatment that will heal the disease. When we note the symptoms, we are to take the disease to the Great Physician for the treatment of His love.
SIN IS MORE THAN WORDS AND ACTION
Sin is an interior condition that keeps us from being able to behave in a manner that reflects Gods purpose for our lives. We are all torn as Paul. With our mind we may serve the Law of God, but the Law of Sin is at work in our members. God is the only one who is able to set us free.
When we turn to God in Confession, He forgives the little sins, which are the symptoms, and He begins to treat the big Sins, which are the disease. If we were to go to a doctor with the symptoms of appendicitis, he would do more than give us something to treat the symptoms. He would remove the root cause of the problem.
The grace of God in dealing with our Sins is much the same. He seeks to remove the root cause of the behavior, as well as dealing with the symptoms. How many of us walk in a pride or an anger that causes behavior that is contrary to love? How many of us recognize that Sin and readily bring it to God for treatment?
THE PROBLEM OF JUSTICE
We are all born with a sense of fairness. We just cant agree on what is fair and what is unfair. We all have our own perception, and when others disagree, we are certain that it is they who err. We cannot know justice until it is revealed to us by God. Perhaps justice is the residual memory from Eden that we inherited along with the Sin that keeps us from knowing it as God means it.
We do not hesitate to demand justice from others, who are just as sure that they are already just. Into this moral chaos God speaks again. His answer to injustice is a Cross on which His Son is crucified. It is unquestionably the most unjust event in the history of creation.
He has said, in effect, I am showing you that the way to justice is not through trying to exact justice from one another. You are not able to bring that into reality in your lives. I have shown you that my answer is not justice, but love. The love that is poured out on the Cross is more than sufficient to cover the gaps that have been created by the injustice in the world. Come to me, and allow me to incarnate my love in your flesh that you might bridge the gaps of injustice and bring into reality the presence and sustaining power of my love.
JUDGMENT AND FORGIVENESS
If we are to see the radical shift from justice as a basis for our life and love as Gods new promise, we must also look at judgment and forgiveness. They do not mean the same in the light of Love as they do in the light of Law.
In the light of the Law they are a decision of guilt and the condemnation that follows. In the light of Love they are the cleansing of the old through death and resurrection, and the new creation of the person in the Kingdom of God. It is as if God fulfills the demands of His justice in the death of each of us who comes to Him; and He demonstrates His love in the new creation in resurrection life.
Forgiveness from God is the result of our confession of our Sin. He takes the Sin, crucifies the Sinner, and brings forth a new life within the forgiven. That is one reason why we are not to judge. We are not able to judge with that same creative power of Gods love.
"The judgment with which we judge, we shall be judged" tells us that when we judge another, we do not place them in Gods court. We bind ourselves to them so that we are not free to receive the forgiveness of God, and the transforming power of His love in those areas where we have judged.
When I forgive, I release the person to God for Him to do what He deems necessary. I make a decision to release the one against whom I have anger or resentment, and I ask God to show me how to relate. I release my codependency to the person, and grasp the total dependency on God. I relinquish the Law and I cling to the Gospel.
KINGDOM LIVING WITH GOD
The purpose of leaving the Law behind and pressing on to the Gospel is to give up our rights, and begin to enjoy our privileges. It means that I give up the control of my own life and turn the reins over to the Lord. I let Him do for me what I cannot do for myself.
It is not easy to do since Jesus does not wield a club to compel us to do as He wills. Instead, He invites us to follow Him. The nature of Gods love in the Kingdom is not one that demands that we conform to His will. It leaves is with the freedom of choose to accept or reject that love.
We must learn to communicate with Him through prayer. We must learn to listen as well as to speak. We must learn that we have no "rights" in the Kingdom. Instead, we are given privileges. We have not won our rights by keeping the Law, we have received our privileges by accepting His grace.
We are invited to draw near to Him. We are invited to live in His presence. We are invited to sit in His lap when we are hurt and abandoned by those whom we loved. We are allowed to call Him at any time. The office is always open in the Kingdom. We did not earn the rights. It is a gift of grace.
That is His will for us. He has freely chosen us to be His own children. He will teach us to walk with Him and talk with Him. He will teach us to hear His voice as Jesus pointed out. "My sheep know my voice." He will make us a new creation in the image and likeness of Jesus, and we will finally know who we are.
Then we will keep the Law. We will not keep the Law by trying to keep the Law. It will be written inside our hearts. It will be built into the fabric of our being, as we count one more privilege of the Kingdom. It is the privilege of being able to walk in the Law without the strain it takes in the world when we try in our own ego strength.
It is the privilege of being loved by Abba, and being able to respond to His love in the freedom of choosing to walk in His will. All Sin will be punished. Gods justice will be satisfied, and we shall live with Him is the freedom and fullness of His love that is able to transport us from the bondage of our own Sin and weakness in this age to the freedom of His love in the Kingdom.
We do not begin with the Law, or with justice, or with our judgment. We begin with His love which can do for us what we could never do for ourselves. That is Good News!To Fr Al's Main Page