At the time that I write this post, there have been a lot of changes in noteworthy and controversial laws that have people on both sides of the fence either celebrating or lamenting quite passionately. Just to name a few, we have the overturning of Roe v. Wade which allows the states to determine the legality of abortion; which means there probably will be some states that outlaw it. We also had a ruling that law-abiding Americans could more freely carry handguns outside the home for self-defense, the court also made a ruling that prevented a “vaccinate or test” mandate for some of the nation’s largest companies, and the Supreme Court sided with a former high school coach who led a prayer after a game saying that it was within his Constitutional rights to lead that prayer.

I will take this moment to let you know this is not a political post in which I share my personal feelings on any of these matters. I do believe that it is our duty as Christians to stay informed on matters having to do with our ruling bodies of government and that we should prayerfully research and vote how we think God is leading. I do NOT think we should passively sit around (and often complain) about policies. God is a God of order and in 2 Peter 2:13-17, God specifically talks about submitting and honoring those in authority. If there is a time of revolt that is ordained by God, He will let us know what to do about that.

What I AM interested in sharing here is the purpose of the Law and Jesus’ example of how we find the balance of supporting and following the laws of our land while also remembering that it is our love, grace and relationships with others that will help to further God’s kingdom and share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I did notice on a few facebook posts over the past few weeks how so many of us think that if we pass laws we think align with God’s laws that they will keep people from engaging in those behaviors. This past week the former prime minister of Japan was shot and killed. Japan is known for strict gun laws and doesn’t seem to have many cases of gun violence. Yet the former prime minister was shot and killed with a gun homemade out of pipes and some kind of tape. So while the laws do set limits and parameters on society and its behavior, it is not full proof and there is a bigger issue with negative behavior that can’t be fixed with behavior modification. The problem is in the hearts of people.

I came across an article in the Wheaton Record in which an author shared his ideas that God’s Law has 3 purposes.
1.  To show people their need for a Savior. If we read Romans 3:20 and 7:7 we see Paul reminding us that the law shows us that we fall short. Adam and Eve were given one law; don’t eat of this particular tree. With their free will, they broke that law. God’s chosen people were given the 10 commandments from God through Moses. Those were constantly broken. Jesus summed up all 10 commandments into this- Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love others as yourself. We don’t have to go too far to see that we all continually fall short of this as well. God is loving, but He also is just. He cannot change who He is. He loves us and wants to be in relationship with us, but we need help to be worthy to be in that relationship with Him. Rather than leave us that way, He sent Jesus to pay that price for us and to fulfill the Law so we can be adopted into His family.
2.  Another purpose of the law is to have some kind of restraint in society. 1 Timothy 1:8-11 tells us that the law is good; it is not made for the righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate. It is good to have restraints that keep us in check. MLK, Jr was quoted as saying, “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.” The law may not be able to mandate morality, but it keeps us in check while God is working on our stubborn hearts.
3.  One other purpose of the law, according to the article I read, is to direct the believer in his behavior. Psalm 119 is full of verses that talk about loving the law and delighting in the law. Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”

There is power in God’s law and it can be used to transform the heart and mind when we work together with the Holy Spirit in our lives. The law can even be used to bring awareness to a rebellious soul and to play a part in the salvation process.

However, one thing I want us to be aware of and careful of is that the law alone cannot dictate morality or a change in the heart. It doesn’t work for us to be hands-off with regard to our great commission of preaching the gospel and making disciples. We are not called to create godly laws and expect those laws to do what God called us to do. Jesus is a great example of how to use the relationships he built to share love and grace and to balance the laws in order to share God’s love.

The woman at the well- John 4. She was breaking laws by having multiple husbands and now a live-in boyfriend. Jesus was breaking laws by speaking with a Samaritan and a woman. Yet, Jesus was called to meet her, to minister to her, to reveal Himself as Messiah to her. He knew that the relationship He was about to build was going to be life-changing. He knew that she knew the laws. She knew she was breaking laws. It took that relationship, that grace, that personal touch to open her eyes to the love and acceptance God had for her.
The woman caught in adultery- John 8. This woman was breaking laws by having an adulterous relationship. Jesus knew the law and that the law called for her to be stoned, but He also knew there was a soul to be saved and that He was going to accomplish that by building a relationship. He got to the heart of the matter. Obeying laws wasn’t going to show her the abundant, new life God had for her. Jesus showed her grace, was able to disperse the hateful crowd and send her on her way with an admonition to “Go and sin no more.” So he still encouraged her to pay attention to the law and the ways God wanted her to live, but He did so through relationship.
Countless beggars and lepers and sick people- Jesus broke the laws by spending time with them, but through His attention, love, listening ear, truth and instruction, so many went on to look for a more meaningful life.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (NKJV). This seems like the perfect balance between law and relationship. Jesus does the work to get to know us, get personally involved in our lives, and change our hearts. Then he gives us that desire to follow His commands in order to find that life He has for us. Romans 12:1-2 talks about how we are not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed. It is a process and it requires us to get our hands dirty and work hard by His grace.

So when you find out someone you know is contemplating an abortion, instead of throwing a law at her to try and make her do what you think is “right”, how about being a friend, talking with her, listening to what she is going through, praying with her, brainstorming ideas, and loving her through the entire process regardless of what she decides to do.

Maybe we need to be more observant of kids at school or co-workers or neighbors who might feel hopeless or forgotten or hurt. Maybe we befriend someone who looks or acts differently than we do, get to know them and when they feel like no one is listening or think they need to get attention through a mass shooting, they’ll think about our friendship and maybe make a different decision and get the help they need.

It’s not an easy fix and tragic things are still going to happen. But I do know that Jesus commissioned us to go into all the world, preaching the gospel and making disciples in all the nations. Nothing there says to allow the laws to make the disciples. Let’s be willing to interrupt our schedules and get our hands dirty to be a light to a broken world.

Make sure to check out the video devotional that encourages us to find the balance between Laws and Relationships.

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