April 4th, 2012 categories: Grazing Spiritual Pastures
My reading today is Mark 10:1-12, basically Jesus addressing the issue of divorce. This passage could have taken me a whole lot of directions but, for today, I found myself going over (once again), the purpose of the Law … the purpose of the law according to Jesus … the purpose of the law as clarified in the New Testament epistles. Here are my thoughts:
Jesus continuously cuts to the heart of the matter when it comes to the Law as He does in this passage. Jesus essentially was saying to the Pharisees: “You think just because you filed for a certificate of divorce according to the letter of the Law that it is ok to go out and do what YOU want to do (e.g., be unfaithful to your wife). Not so, you are still being unfaithful and unfaithfulness is adultery according to the letter of the law. Come on, be honest. Quit covering up what’s going on in your heart. Let’s get to the heart of the matter. What’s the real issue?”
As for the Law, it would seem that sometimes Jesus was making the Law harder (as in the case of divorce) or easier (as in the case of healing on the Sabbath). Instead, He is trying to get us to see the true meaning of the law … the difference between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. The letter of the law kills. The spirit of the law brings life.
You see, the Law is intended for good (e.g., standards of right and wrong). It helps us to see what is good for self and society (e.g., don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, etc.). It gives instruction for the teachable and consequence for the unteachable. Fear of the consequence of breaking the Law tends to keep the lawless in line. It protects us from those who are lawbreakers. Thus, the statement, The Law is for the lawless.
Essentially, any standard of right and wrong can be likened to the law. For the patriots, we must salute the flag or else. For the eco-friendly “green” types, we must recycle or else. The Democrats, the Republicans, Baptists, Catholics, etc. … they all have standards of right and wrong in place. If you do this, you are “in.” If you don’t, you are “out.” Reward and punishment. People go to extremes requiring fulfillment at all costs. What originally was a rule/law set for protection now becomes a burden even for those it was designed to protect. Fulfillment of the law becomes more important than the individual. That scenario replays over and over again in different settings.
The Law is meant to lead us to Christ. It seems that we all go through a time of having to differentiate the letter of the law from the spirit of the law. Again, it always boils down to what we think the law is for. For some, it is manipulated … to be used for self purposes (as in the case of the Pharisees who were seeking to just do what they wanted – be unfaithful to their wives – self for self – it’s all about “me!”). For others, it is looked to in order to control outcomes (again, a form of manipulation). If I do this, then I can have what I want (even if it is peace, prosperity, etc.). For Christ, it was used to see into the heart of God’s purposes … what is good for mankind, for others.
Eventually, if we are teachable, we “get” that we need Christ’s leading in order to truly understand how to live out the spirit of the law because trying to fulfill the letter of the law becomes heavy and burdensome. We cry out for help.
In order to be freed from the burden and enabled to fulfill the spirit of the law, we need Christ. We simply cannot fulfill the Law apart from Christ … apart from relationship with Christ who displayed a greater law, the Law of Love. As we receive Christ through the Holy Spirit, He writes the law (e.g., the spirit of the law, the law of Love) on our hearts. He enables us to truly distinguish the difference … translating what we comprehended as standards of righteousness (e.g., right and wrong) into real life giving actions (e.g., the law of Love). Submitting to the Holy Spirit (e.g., we have a willingness to receive Christ’s nature), the Holy Spirit’s causes us to both to will (e.g., understand the law of love) and to work (e.g., to actually do life differently – to live a life that is about more than just “self”) for His good pleasure.
So … back to the Pharisees and divorce. Jesus was trying to get them to see that they were living a self for self existence. It’s as if He was saying:
“Come on … What is really going on in your marriage? You are missing the point! God designed marriage … knowing that it was not good for man (or woman) to be alone. He gave a wonderful gift of togetherness … two people being helpmates to each other. In order to be a helpmate, though, you have to be help(full) toward the other. If it’s simply all about self … one self … marriage decays into a legal contract.” *
Unfortunately, there are also even to this day just as many people who are still married according to the ‘letter of the law’ and yet they are divorced in reality … living separated lives.
God’s purpose in marriage is fulfilled by togetherness … oneness … when BOTH parties desire the best for the other … desire to be full enough to give give to the other … desire to make it MORE than just about their ‘self.’ When that happens, God blesses that union and ‘the two become better than one’ … having one heart, one mind, and a purpose that accomplishes God’s best. When two parties truly WANT to be together, WANT the best for the other … God’s purpose in marriage is fulfilled.
Jesus says to us all: ”I’m always interested in getting to the heart of the issue. So, what’s REALLY going on in your marriage? Are you willing to go there with Me?”
*I just can’t see Moses rewarding a man who just wanted to go out and cheat on his wife. “Here let me help you out. I’ll write you out a certificate of divorce so you can do what YOU want!” Perhaps, the certificate of divorce was Moses simply allowing for a legal declaration of what was: “You are living a divorced existence. You have a hard heart towards your spouse. It is what it is so I declare it so under the Law!” Just a thought.
RESPOND WITH YOUR MOOS & VIEWS HERE
Print This Post