The Elephant in the Room

Basically, forgiveness is great. It’s essential, so much so that God went there first. The problem is that at some point, though, in order to reach the kingdom of heaven we have to learn how to treat each other better.

There is a reason why the communication of God’s love through Moses came as a set of laws. It wasn’t because God is some kind of control freak. It’s because right behavior is necessary for the kind of society that God desires people live in to emerge.

The New Testament is basically one expansive disagreement between two camps; the Apostles on the one side and Paul on the other. I say disagreement because argument is probably too loaded a word, but yeah, an argument. The Apostles mostly came down on the side of the law having some importance, even to Christians. Paul said grace was the solution offered by Christ, and that the law was important, but that it no longer held power over the believer. This situation was not strange to Jesus either. He said that heaven and earth might pass away but that not one jot or tittle of the law would. At the same time when the woman caught in the act of adultery was brought before him, after he said, “Let he amongst you who is without sin cast the first stone”, he said, “Nobody accuses you, I don’t either.” Jesus was a forgiving man. Many times he said, “Your sins are forgiven.” He also said stuff like, divorce is flat out wrong and God only allowed you to do it under Moses because of your hardness of heart.

Could it simply be that Jesus knew when forgiveness was what a person needed and when instruction on how to behave was also? Why can’t the church get that same part right? Solomon said there is a season to everything. The church seems to be stuck in the season of forgiveness, and hesitant to listen to the rest of what God has to say. Is it so hard to realize that the penalty of the law, death, is what Christ came to take away, by fulfilling the law, but that the lessons of the law were in no way revoked?

Love is sometimes more than a feeling. Sometimes it is paying attention to the world around you, even if you are tired, or angry, or feel picked on, or whatever. Paying attention means realizing what someone else needs, sometimes, but not always, even over the fact you also have needs. Yes, sometimes your needs are more important and you should answer them first, but don’t be an ass about it and don’t let it set a precedent for every similar situation you come across.

Life is like management, it takes concession to actually manage. Management does have rules, even if they are not always hard and fast. One of those rules is that the purpose for an endeavor is never forgotten, though it can be set aside as an imperative if that is the only way to get to it safely, with the means to get there intact. The Christian purpose is to love one another, to be one even as Christ and the Father are one. Sometimes unity can’t be achieved without a whole lot of forgiveness. But when does forgiveness end and the ties that bind begin to matter? Forgiveness can prevent those ties from rupturing, or heal them when they do, but it can’t set them up all by itself.

Really, what is the law? It came at Sinai as part of a foretelling of something that was to come. The essential point is that the law and the baptism of the early church by Jesus not in water, but in the Holy Spirit both talk about the same thing, God coming to impart instruction about how to love one another. It is that instruction that the church needs almost above all else. If it were not so Jesus would not have said that that greatest commandment was to love God with all of yourself and that the second was like unto it, love thy neighbor as thyself.

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