Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Quick Word Association

If I said the word “law,” what comes to mind?

I think courtroom. Litigation. Lawsuit. Rules. Speed traps (we have a notorious one close to our home.) Lawyers. Judge. Trouble. Trial. The Old Bailey (I watched all the Rumpole shows on PBS) (and read the books). Perry Mason. Matlock.

The fact is, we associate the word “law” with rather negative things.

We think of the Ten Commandments, for example, as a kind of summary of “the law.” All the do’s and don’ts. All the thou-shalt-nots. And all that quintessential micromanagement in Deuteronomy and Leviticus. The Old Testament seems like it was one mean place.

Perhaps we’re overlaying our modern attitudes about “law” onto something that was a very different place, a very different time. Perhaps the problem isn’t the law as delineated in the Old Testament, but our own contemporary attitudes applied to an old understanding.

When I hear the word “law,” about the last word I think of is grace.

I don’t think of lawyers and grace in the same sentence, unless the lawyer is named Grace. (I knew a lawyer named Grace once, and it was definitely an oxymoron.)

And yet the concepts of law and grace are not an oxymoron.

“When we trust and obey,” writes Andy Stanley in The Grace of God, it becomes clear that the law of God is actually an expression of the grace of God…When we see God’s law the way he intended it, we understand that the grace of God and the law of God are not opposing concepts. There is no tension between the two. One is simply the expression of the other.”

Think of the implications of that statement. There is no contradiction between the Old and New Testaments. It’s not the mean God of the Old Testament and the loving God of the New Testament. It is not the law versus the gospel of love. The major divisions of the Bible do not oppose each other – they explain each other.

All those arguments, all those superior attitudes about how the Bible is divided into two different gospels – meaningless.

Our minds are so attuned to modern-day understandings of “law” that they rebel against the idea of anything else.

It’s almost like trying to imagine that a lawyer could be aptly named Grace.

Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’re discussing Stanley’s The Grace of God. To see more posts on this chapter, “Ruled by Grace,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact.

Photograph: The Royal Courts of Justice, London, by Vera Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Unknown said...

God's commands are an expression of His grace. As Stanley said, they are not opposing forces, but rather they fit hand in hand.

In His grace, He give His people direction (laws) to keep them from harm and to propel them to glory.

jasonS said...

A lawyer named Grace? That is pretty incredible! I think you may be onto something too about having such negative emotions associated with 'law' that it clouds our own minds and we fail to see the grace in what God gave Israel and by extension, us. Great post, Glynn. Thanks.