Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why Keep the Law?

In recent weeks, I have become quite irritated with Reddit. Many people, time and time again, scholarly and non-scholarly, have questioned Grace in the light of, “Why aren't we following the laws in the Bible?” To this, I give them the rough account of the gospel. I then say, “But the laws are still good for us to follow,” to which they scoff, and then either denounce me for being double-minded or express confusion at what is perceived to be a lack of understanding on the subject.

I have complete assurance on the subject. Whereas I may be a man who I subject to change, the Bible is not, nor is the God who wrote it. The subject of the Old Law is well-spelled out. Let me dust off my Bible...

6 Jesus told him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

This still leaves ambiguity in the air; how does one come to Jesus?

17 Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

Okay, so we can rule out “through the law”, because nary fifty words later, Jesus destroys that thought:

20 “For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

This is where one would start biting their nails. At this point, people lost their Law. Several points elsewhere in the gospel, Jesus personally denounces the scribes and Pharisees. But that's just it: The Old Law had failed. That's the most uncomfortable sentence I’ve typed in a very long time. I like my laws; American law keeps me somewhat safe. International laws keep us safer. I look back in the Old Law, where it calls homosexuality a sin worthy of stoning, and this statement seems not to reconcile itself with wisdom, justice, and love.

God spoke to Moses, who then went back to his people and, amongst other things, says those exact words. Yet a few thousand years later, Grace shows us that all sins are equal (one sin in your lifetime is worthy of damnation; I have sinned much more than that). The Lost Son an the son who stayed with his father all that time were shown the same amount of love by the Prodigal Father.

I think I have an answer (from this point on, I am speculating. I cannot say that I have any authority to say what God intends, as I am not a scholar and only opinionate on God after much thought), which takes us to the beginning. God started with two people (I will tackle evolutionary theory later. For the sake of Biblical accuracy, I will assert two people), who He gave one rule to. For crying out loud, God walked in the garden. He had a relationship with Adam and Eve.

Then the first two fell. Sin wasn't even a word yet, and yet we humans did it. God stayed with His Creation, though, through the flood. God knew that humans weren't ready for Grace, but He needed this to prove to future generations. The flood came and went, and we fast forward a bit to Moses. Moses stayed on the mountain for forty or so days, and I think this is what happened between Moses and God up there (Note: This is only comedic. I know it didn't happen like this, but I’m just showing how humans weren't ready for Grace):

God: <Grace>
Moses: huh?
God: <Shows Moses how Grace works>
Moses: huh?
God: <Fills Moses' head with Grace>
Moses: Wait, wait... what do we do in <this case>?
God: <Still showing Moses the glory of Grace>
Moses: Let me grab a pen, I’ll need to write some rules down. I’m not gonna remember this “Grace” thing
God: <Ten Commandments>

Moses goes down, sees the idol worship, breaks the tablets over his knee, stomps back up to the mountain top.

Moses: Yeah... We're gonna need more rules.
God: <Slaps hand on head in frustration, tells Moses exactly what a human needs to do to be saved>
Moses: Okay... Got that... Talk a little slower, please... Got that... how many lambs? Okay... What about this kind of person? Okay...

Then Moses went down and God took some Prozac, and listened to Moses giving the law to the people. He knew full well that the laws weren't going to work, but human weren't ready for Grace. They would, however, be ready for Laws, which would build humans up to a sophistication enough to understand why grace was better. Furthermore, why the laws failed. Jesus came at the exact right time; the scribes and pharisees were unrighteously pious, and the people were becoming paralyzed trying to get to Heaven. The relationship God had with His people had all but died. Furthermore, thanks to the stability of the Roman Empire (amongst other factors with I think God alone has a license to understanding), humans were ready for Grace.

Grace is like the theory of relativity, or even something simpler, like gravity, or magnetism. These theories were only recently understood, because we have only recently reached the level of sophistication to understand them. God couldn't give us grace, because we haven't mastered other aspects of life. You need to understand the structure of the atom before unraveling the mysteries thereof. In a much different sense, computers weren't even thought of back in Jesus' time. Now, I’m typing on a computer while it is scanning itself for specific malicious programs, playing music, and checking several times a second for Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit updates. We are much more sophisticated in the sense that we have built on our past.

Much like ourselves now, we needed to see that the Old Ways weren't working as well as the New Way back when Jesus came. We can now no longer say “why not just tell us Grace from the beginning”, or “Why not just gives us laws and be done with this 'interpreting scripture' thing?” for God did that. And He proved the Old Law failed. For, laws let us find ways to circumvent them. Grace is impassable. It is no longer about rules, it is about the intent of following them.

So, why still follow these rules? I don't recommend following the Old Law, as those laws were written to a culture over two-thousand years past. They're still somewhat applicable, but I would suggest ascribing to the laws of the current land. I would take that instead of anarchism, any day. Also, Jesus did come to fulfill the purpose of the Law (making yourself worthy in God's eye), so if you follow Jesus' teachings, then no law should go against you. 

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