I’m very happy that Wednesday Night Suppers are back at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church! Great food; chatting in line while waiting to be served; sitting at the big, round tables with other families; the buzz of the CLC full with people; experiencing community the way it is supposed to be….
After dinner I met with the Wednesday-evening men’s Bible study, and we talked about Romans chapter 13. Romans is always challenging and inspiring, but this particular conversation triggered an insight that has been growing in significance the more it settles in to me.
Romans: It’s always a great exercise to read an entire book – in sequence – rather than simply sampling the favorite “sound bite” verses here and there. But, as Paul has restated and amplified his essential points, some of the guys have struggled with the letter’s back-and-forth commentary about Grace and The Law.
Paul is very clear regarding the “sufficiency” of Christ, yet he references The Law relentlessly, and with enough conviction attached that it’s easy to wonder sometimes if he really believes his own declarations that we are free,
“The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” – Romans 8:2
Then, right in the middle of Romans chapter 13, we read the following:
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Paul is still eager about The Law because – now – he is talking about the Law of Love. He’s talking about something Jesus pointed out in Matthew 22:36-40:
Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” [Jesus] said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Bottom line, it is impossible to even contemplate keeping the Law of Love absent Grace. In other words, Jesus places us in the same predicament that Old Testament Law does, but with this caveat:
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:17
Salvation means to get involved with the work that God is up to, and that work is rooted in the Law of Love. Jesus makes it possible for us to become partners with God in the ongoing initiative of love.
Yes, we’re still subject to The Law; but now it is the law of love. Live, Paul advises, this way because now, “We belong to the day…” and we must, “cloth ourselves with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.” – v 13-14
Peace and blessings – DEREK