Tag Archives: God’s law

God’s Justice

December 28, 2017

Scripture Reading: Galatians 4:4-7

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Laws when properly used provide shortcuts for how we are to conduct ourselves, protect ourselves and each other, and create order out of potential chaos. The Hebrew Bible contains three types of laws: rules of etiquette, civil law, and religious law. I do not think we have much trouble with veering to our own interpretations of etiquette today. After all, times change, resulting in the need to change the way we interact in good company. We who have always lived in a society that practices the separation of church and state, probably have more difficulty parsing out what is civil law, meant to assure the Common Good, and what is religious laws, meant to assure our personal and communal relationship with God.

As people of faith, the command to love God and love one another serves as an overriding covenant for our way of acting and being. At times that has put people in the awkward place of going to jail as they broke the civil law while fulfilling their covenant with God. Notably, Paul was arrested more than once. In the Birmingham jail as guidance in loving as Jesus loved. Civil law was eventually modified to bring civil law into synch with the will of the majority of the people with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The passage of this law was impacted to some degree by people of faith doing justice.

Conflict arises when people of faith extract differing interpretation of God’s rules and attempt to enforce them through civil law. Our country is very divided today as we seek the Common Good through these differing views. In fact, in recent years the Civil Rights Act was modified to lessen its impact.

Christ was sent to redeem those under the law what does Paul mean by that? How do we reconcile our divisions and find the Common Good for all people? We are each called to seek God’s will for our lives including the justice we are called to do. Celebrating the birth of Jesus again and beginning a new year is a great time to put away our defensiveness and evaluate our attitudes and positions anew. What indeed would Jesus do?

Prayer: Lord, it is so hard to see our ways objectively. Be our mirror so we can individually and collectively love the way you would have us love and do your justice. Forgive us when we substitute our justice for yours. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Written on My Heart

Eating Ice creamLent
March 16, 2015

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. — Jeremiah 31:31-33

My mother taught school the year I was in the second grade. Thus, we three children road to and from school with her. One evening after school we stopped at the one general store in my home town and all went into the store. I knew exactly what I wanted and ran immediately to the freezer area, got an ice cream on a stick, and apparently went straight to the car to eat it. Now as I look back on it, I realize that I must have known it was not the right thing to do or I would not have gone directly to the car. Actually going directly to the car without my mother was not acceptable behavior either.

When my mother arrived at the car and found me licking my ice cream, she asked me where I got it and I told her, she asked me who paid for it and squirming I said, “I thought you would.” I then received a brief but complete explanation about the harm we do to others when we steal from them.  She then took the unfinished portion away from me, escorted my back into the store, showed it to the store owner, and explained that I had taken it without paying for it. I solemnly said I was sorry and told him I would never, ever do anything like that again. Mom paid for it and we left. I do not remember her saying another word and I think I can honestly say that since that time I have never knowingly taken anything that was not mind. The lesson, thou shalt not steal* had been written on my heart.

Laws and rules may be meaningful in general, but they do not move to the level of God’s laws until we recognize and take responsibility for the harm that our making them or breaking them can do to others.

Prayer: O Lord, help us to live justly and to create a just society. Amen.

*Exodus 20:15

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


God’s Law

images8PY7HK9HLent March 4, 2015

Scripture Reading: Psalm 19

The law of the Lord is perfect,
   reviving the soul;
he decrees of the Lord are sure,
   making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
   rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
   enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is pure,
   enduring for ever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.— Psalm 19:7-9

Perfect, sure, right, clear, pure, and true are the words used to describe the law of the Lord. These words are a far cry from the status of our laws today. I once wrote policy regarding a program being implemented to help the unemployed gain work skills. In the law and in the regulations that resulted from the law there was a laundry list of services that could be provided. I honestly cannot remember much more about the actual program, but we implemented all of the items in the laundry list. When the federal auditors came to review our program, they cited us for being out of compliance because we should have only picked one service. The key word about which we wrangled for months was the word “or”. The auditors interpreted the word as meaning we could only implement one of the services, my counter was that the word “or” can also mean “and” and it certainly does not mean only one unless it is combined with the word “either”.  I was banking my response on my 7th and 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Gehring, who was a stickler for grammar. They were pulling out books of case law. As it turned out Mrs. Gehring was right.

While we do need rules and regulations to maintain order in society, we must recognize that they are not infallible and even God’s laws are opened to our very human interpretation. We must continually work toward being in touch with God so that our interpretations are guided by God and all of God’s laws are overlaid with love.

Prayer: Lord, teach me your way, help me always to try to understand the viewpoint of others from the point of your love for them. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.