Loved Into The Family Of God
But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. - Romans 3:21-25
In the Christian tradition of which I am a part, there is a teaching called the “Law and Gospel”.
The Law is seen as the commands of God. It is the things one should and should not do. The Law is believed to have three purposes.
One purpose is as a fence. A fence keeps one out of where one should not be.
A second purpose is a mirror. When one looks in a mirror one can see messed up hair, a dirty face, things like that. Since one can not live up to all of God’s commands perfectly, the Law shows the individual the points where the individual fails to live up to God’s law, like a mirror.
A third purpose is as a guide. I often compare this to a map. A map shows one the way and direction of a journey. Life is a journey. The Law guides one on life’s journey using the commands of God.
The Gospel has nothing to do with commandments. It has to do with God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, and God’s love. It has to do with the gift of Jesus Christ.
One person taught me to see the difference between the Law and Gospel using the letters S. O. S. The Law Shows Our Sin. The Gospel Shows Our Savior.
This touches on another teaching. That teaching is conversion. The teaching is one cannot be converted through the Law, even though the Law is very important. One can only be converted through the Love of God, the Gospel.
I see some implications from this teaching of Law and Gospel for life’s journey.
Sometimes individuals are obsessed with changing others to a certain way of journeying through life. Individuals often use a form of coercion. Coercion can be forceful words, abuse of power, even violence.
God does not bring about conversion through coercion but rather through Love.
Perhaps if we want to influence someone on their journey, the answer is not coercion but rather love. A love that honors, accepts and walks beside that person.
I believe that is the way Jesus loves. He honors us, accepts us and walks beside us, so to speak. I believe Jesus calls us to this same love.
Prayers for the people of Christchurch, New Zealand.
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California