As I have done in previous Lents I am sharing a daily reflection as part of my Lenten discipline. This year I am using the “Wilderness Wanderings” theme compiled by the “Lent Photo a Day” group. The word appointed for today is “Law.”
Within ministry, theology, and seminary there is this dialectic of law and gospel. Much has been, and will continue to be written about this, and the “uses” of the law. It’s interesting reading and good food for discussion if you like heady theology. However, it’s not what comes to mind today.
Rather, I want to turn this concept of “law” on its head a bit, and return to this passage that seems to be the one that I am really wrestling with this Lenten season. The apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2, NRSV.
What might this “law of Christ” be anyway? To me as a Christian and Lutheran this seems to be a law that is radically turned outward. It’s a law that involves relationships and forces us to acknowledge that we are both in community and called and created to be in community and relationships with others. This seems to be what “Bear one another’s burdens” might suggest.
In our society, law is generally meant for the common good and good order. It is something that is meant to provide stability and enable people to function with one another. Law is not necessarily a static thing though. Laws can be adapted, interpreted, created, and changed. When there arises new information, new understanding, new tools, and/or new needs laws are changed, abolished, enhanced, or created. At its best, law is something that is engaged with the needs of the current context of society.
As I understand it, law is a way of doing things, of explaining the why, and of creating a unified starting place. That’s why when Jesus is asked in his ministry what commandment is greatest, he summarizes the law by saying two things:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27, NRSV.
Within the theological and biblical, law is really about relationship- the relationship of each of us with God and with one another. What do you think? What does this law mean to you?
Image Credit: Bearing each other