Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

The Law, the great equalizer

6/22/12

 

According to conventional wisdom, the rules allow us to differentiate between the good folks and the bad ones.  The punishments associated with the rules supposedly encourage compliance and protect the good people from the depredations of the bad. Rules are deemed essential to a well ordered society and based on the Old Testament are seen as God sanctioned.

 

Interestingly, this infatuation with the rule of law, which is an oft touted principle of American society and its religion, is pointedly challenged throughout the New Testament. Beginning with Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, we see numerous examples of what the law really meant and what purpose it had served. The NT is clear in its declaration that all men had absolute equality before the law- the equality of guilt and condemnation. The law did not separate mankind into good and bad; it relegated all to the same state. Where reliance on the law led many to point fingers at others as worthy of condemnation, Jesus warned against such judgments. Where the law enjoined men to punish law breakers, Jesus indicated that only those without sin could enforce the law.

 

These dramatically counter intuitive precepts are largely ignored in Christian teaching because they go so much against the grain. The equality expressed by Jesus eliminates my ability to claim moral superiority over anyone. That quite naturally challenges our traditional sense of right and wrong. It is then understandable that we resist this thinking. However, we must recognize that the supposed need for the morally superior to rule over and control the morally inferior is fraught with the inevitable consequences of arrogance, selfishness, oppression, disunity, and conflict.

 

I would not deny that in some cases public laws have forced upon society a new way of behaving which was ultimately beneficial. However, real change always requires a new way of thinking, which must follow in the wake of newly mandated behavior. Until, that change in thinking becomes a reality, all the problems of the rule of the supposedly superior remain as a real counterpoint to the good that may have been created. Laws can open our eyes to needed change, but real change is voluntarily made and not dictated.

 

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