Accomplishing the Law
(Jesus said):“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:13-20
These are some pretty harsh sounding words from Jesus.
Do you break any of the commandments? Do I?
I think we know the answer to that. And there is some big pressure on those of us who teach to make sure we aren't leading others to break the law.
As Lutherans we are used to hearing the phrase "law and gospel." We are confident in the Gospel of Jesus Christ freeing us from the law.
But what about the law then? Despite what we Lutherans say, the law seems pretty important to Jesus. And as followers of Jesus, as Christians we are meant to be salt and light - adding flavor and vision to this life so that Christ can be seen through our lives.
For Jesus, the law is ultimately meant to be accomplished. Meant to be written on our hearts. Meant to be part and parcel with life itself.
And without it, we can't see or take part in the Kingdom of Heaven - or the Kingdom of God.
When we remember that the Kingdom of God is not a heaven we get to go to someday, but as something we pray for to come about now - as in the Lord's Prayer - the law becomes clearer.
The Kingdom of God is like God's big picture, God's love active in creation, God's dream for the world.
God's ultimate reality - or as Richard Rohr puts it, the "Really Real."
If that's the Kingdom of God, then not living into the law becomes a barrier for us taking part in that ultimate reality. Not living into the law separates us from those we are meant to be in relationship with.
God's law is a law of love, and living into that love, opens our eyes to the big picture God is trying to show us.
We don't and won't get it right likely most of the time - hence the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But I'll bet you know from experience that when you do, the window to that ultimate reality becomes just a little bit clearer.
Your Kingdom Come, Lord. In me and through me. Amen