Rule, not Ruler, Of Love

Readings: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 2 Samuel 7:1-17; Galatians 3:23-29

Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.

But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:23-29, NRSV

Something happens to rules when human frailty comes into play. Rules become a way to divide the worthy from the unworthy, to judge the deserving and the undeserving. Instead of guides to fostering love and togetherness, they become a justification for our prejudices and our need to feel superior. In our short-sightedness, we enshrine the rules instead of the love they point us toward. What was supposed to unite and heal is used to divide and hurt. We honor the letter of the law while killing its spirit – and in the process, we harm the spirits of those who differ from us. In doing that, we harm ourselves.

But when we remember that we are all Christ’s own, we can honor the unique aspects of each person without using them as a way to measure his or her worth. When we remember that God claims us all, we don’t need to exclude others based on differences. And we don’t need a measuring stick to value our own self-worth.

4 thoughts on “Rule, not Ruler, Of Love

  1. Bill+Albritton

    So interesting…and in today’s Gospel reading (Mt. 3: 1-12) we hear John the Baptist calling the rule-encrusted Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers”…hmm.

    1. Johnna Post author

      I love “encrusted.” I’ve often thought of rules much like casts – they are great supports when needed, but are meant to be left behind once they have done their work…

  2. David Anderson

    I tend to look at the spiritual life through the lens of faith development. From that perspective, rules are critical to our formation, the strong foundation that give us something to depart from. We have to learn how to break the rules, like Jesus kept doing, but unless we’re given, and then master, some rules in the first place–we’ve got nothing to break. But the big sign of early-stage religion is–it never moves on from building that foundation, it never moves on to build the wild castle of love.

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