Faith and the Law – What does Jesus say?
This morning I opened the Bible to the writings of Paul to the Galatians. Faith seems to be the thread running through the chapters. What it is and how it sets us free. He speaks at length about faith and the law, naming that the Law is not what defines us but rather it is the example of Jesus that molds our being and directs our path.
We are at that point in the church year when we are preparing for annual meetings and there will be many conversations about
what needs to happen,
who can serve on what committee,
who can vote and who cannot
along with many other things that are governed by rules and regulations.
In our wider church community, we are still in the throws of change in our structure which includes defining new processes, discerning the laws that will govern us and the bureaucracy that seems to be needed.
Faith and the Law
I began to think about all this in light of Paul’s words. Sometimes the laws that we create in our communities of faith and in the denomination become the thing that is more important than anything else. They hinder our ability to truly live the gospel. The United Church of Canada “the Manual”, which is our book of laws, is used by some to dictate actions in such a way that the spirit and wisdom are choked out of existence. Then there are the many forms and applications that must be completed, the people that must be consulted and the other rules that determine what can and cannot be done. Our rules and regulations are put in place to help and in many instances make a great deal of sense. However, they must be viewed with the eyes of faith. When we do this, we are reminded that room must be given for love to take precedence over the letter of the law.
Ask the Question – What does Jesus say?
Jesus made this clear in his ministry. The law stated that it was wrong to do anything on the Sabbath, yet when someone needed healing Jesus did not say “Wait until tomorrow because this is the Sabbath.” He healed them. When the disciples were hungry, Jesus did not say “wait until tomorrow because this is the Sabbath.” He encouraged them to pick grain and eat. When Jesus encountered women he did not say “the law says I must not engage with these women.” He sat, talked, ate and drank. He ministered to and with them. Jesus demonstrated that when a law prevents a person from participating in the blessings of the universe, when it hinders growth or leads to oppression and injustice, then that law must be broken.
This is also what Paul emphasizes as he preaches. He asks the question
“Did you receive the spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?”
Essentially, Paul asks us to see the universe through faith which is a trust in something beyond and within that directs us to do what is good and right and true. We must ask, in each situation –
“What does the law say?”
“What does Jesus say?”
Sometimes they go hand in hand and other times Jesus leads us in a different direction and we are free.
May it be so.
© 2020 Rev. Valerie Peyton Kingsbury. All rights reserved