The Difference Between Law And Love

The Audio Version can be heard here.

What is the difference between law and love?

Really in the Christian way we are not governed by law at all. We should be beyond it. We seek not just merely keeping of the commandment if we seek to be related to our blessed Lord.

Is it hard, is it possible? Remember one day a young man came to our blessed Lord. And he ask what must he must do to be saved. And Our blessed Lord said that he must keep the commandments. And our Lord mentioned about five or six of the commandments, such as not stealing and not committing adultery and the like.

And the young man said, "I have kept all these from my youth" our blessed Lord then added "If you would be perfect, go sell all you have, give to the poor then come follow me."

The young man left our Lord. Went away sad because he had great possessions. The apostles where troubled about this. After all must everybody sell everything he has to follow our Lord.

So they said, "Who then can be saved?" and our Lord answered, "it is not possible with men alone." That is to say by our own human power we can not but "it is possible with God. All things are possible with God." We have his grace. Is Christianity hard therefore? In a certain sense it is hard, hard from a worldly point of view. But it gives such inner peace and joy that those who obey the law of love of our blessed Lord find it very easy.

Really, when we understand the full import of the law of our blessed Lord. We find it to be this. Our Lord is saying."Give me all, all of you. I do not want just so much of your time...so many hours of your day, so much of your money, so much of your work. I want you! I have not come to torment this natural self of yours.

I have come to kill it. No half measured are any good. I do not want to cut off a branch here or a branch there. I want to have this whole tree of the natural man cut down. I do not wish just to drill a tooth or crown it. If its bad, I want it out."

So he says, "give me your whole self."

Is that a loss?

No, because he says, "I will give you a new self. I will give you myself. My own shall become yours." The trouble with us when we hear the law of our blessed Lord and we are trying to remain what we are and at the same time to keep a reasonable amount of peace. We want to be what we call "good."

We want our heart and mind to go one way. Maybe it's after money, maybe its after pleasure, maybe its after social prestige and at the same time we do want to behave honesty and chastely and to keep the commandments.

Now that is exactly what our blessed Lord said that we are not to do. He said, "a thistle can not produce a fig and if I am a field that contains nothing but grass seed I can not produce wheat. If I want to produce wheat the change has to go deep. Down below the surface. I have to be plowed up to be re-sown.

That is why our Lord said "if you would be perfect, come follow me." and again, "be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." He meant that we have to go in for full treatment. It is hard, that the sort of hankering after it is a bit harder. Really when we get down to rock bottom, what are we afraid of?

We are afraid to give our finger to God, because we fear that he may take our hand. So we have little secret gardens back in our heart that we tend. The fruit is not His. It's ours. We wall it off from Him. Sometimes a petty sin or vice or selfishness what ever it happens to be.
We do not get the full joy of being a Christian.

It is very hard for an egg, for example, to turn into a bird. It would be much harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are just like eggs now. And we can not go on being just what we call "a good egg".

If we insist upon being a good egg, we either become a good egg, a really good one or a bad one. And what is a good egg? A good egg is an egg that hatches.

It can be readily seen that what our blessed Lord insists upon is a kind of a death. Namely we have to renew in our own lives exactly what happened in His. He is the pattern. He repeatedly said not only to Nicodemus but to us that if we are to live again, we have to perish to that old existence.

If there is anybody who hopes that in Christ the real danger spots are rendered harmless. That nothing else can happen to us, because after all He is a kind savior. And who takes even hardened sinners back with no questions asks. Well that person must first come to terms with the text that our blessed Lord will not subtract not one jot or tittle from the severity of God law.

That He had come not to abolish the Law but to perfect it. Another words. Grace is not cheap. It cost our Lord His life. Can you think of anything that is more costly then that for which a man must pay on the cross? So if we want peace, we have to pay that price with that death to the lower life. Not the death to the higher life.

No... But without that death to our lower life there is no peace. There is only fear. And we live just a kind of half existence. Remember our blessed Lord said that "he who wills to do the will of the Father in heaven will know weather the teaching is from God."

By this he means, one of the reason there are agnostics and skeptics is because they are not keeping the will of God. We know His will, we will understand His doctrine. It could very well be that we have entirely too much insistence upon a knowledge of Christian doctrine and not enough insistence on the doing.

Our blessed Lord never said, that if you know my doctrine you will do my will. But He did say "if you do my will you will know my doctrine." Another words, only he who does the will, who is in earnest about it, who stakes his life on it will come to understand Christ and all that His redemption means. Our Lord is known really only to those who venture, not to the cowards is He known.

Now at first our blessed Lord is always a disturber. When you are living in the natural order, boy, He seems to irritate you. You are dealing with God that seems to be leading you into a kind of crucifixion. You are a nice easy going world ling and have settled down comfortably in to what you call your "world view" but if you are in earnest with Christ you will have to give up that comfort.

Not because you are supposed to be a nervous worrier, but simply because it is a false peace. The first advent, therefore, of Christ into our lives is actually of one who upsets us. But then once we give ourselves to Him, He becomes our defender. Before we have Christ, our heart accuses us. We are unhappy with half measures.

Then, after we give ourselves to our Lord and His law of love, then our heart is at peace and Christ becomes our defender. His attitude completely chances once we have changed ours.

This is just another way of putting the difference between the commandments and love. Commandments only restrain me. We see them as hurdles and obstacles in the way of life. And those that live by the commandments ask "how far can I go?"

"What is the limit?" "How close can I get to the abyss without tumbling in?" "Is it a deadly sin?" This is not the way of love and not the way of peace. It is the old Adam that is within me that talks this way about commands, so that when I merely obey commands I am never there as a whole person.

There, perhaps, most only with the better half of myself and the other remains in opposition. That is the psychological state of everyone that obeys a command. Never the whole heart. But when I love, I am a whole person. For love is a movement of my WHOLE self. It is a overflowing limitless giving of oneself. Therefore it can never be commanded.

It can only happen.

Up to this point, we have said that the Christian doctrine of morality is a total commitment to Christ so that we put on His mind, we think His thoughts, we love what He loves. And we ask ourselves whenever we do anything "will this be pleasing to Him?" But there is another side to the love of God.

There is the love of neighbor. The two laws go together. And the love of neighbor is not merely giving eggs to a neighbor when the neighbor wishes it. It is really being a sin bearer. What does that mean?

Well some years ago I remember meeting a women who was very much distressed because her son had been put into prison. I think it was the fourth arrest for crime and robbery and murder. She was bitterly ashamed and broken hearted. Then I asked myself, why does she have all this shame?

It came to me the words of the prophet Isaiah said that referred to our Lord.

And I might say of her that she had borne his griefs, carried his sorrows. And the chastisements of his peace was upon her. And it would only be by her stripes that he would be healed. This good mother had very few sins in her life.

But love made her exceedingly sinful for his sake. So, immediately, the mystery cleared up. The love which a women can put out for her son and which makes her so entirely one with him. That his sin is her sin. His disgrace is her disgrace. His shame is her shame is the nearest thing we can ever get on this earth to the love of God and to know what God really means.

In our own turn, therefore, we have to see that all of our sins became His sins. Our disgrace His disgrace, Our shame His shame. And in His own body, He bare our sins upon the tree. This is what forgiveness costs.

That is why we say that grace is not easy. We are not, therefore, to think that we are pious. When we begin living our individual holy lives apart from our neighbor and apart from the world and suffering humanity. That was the trouble with Simon the Pharisee. The sinful woman came into the house and poured out ointment upon the feet of our blessed Lord.

Simon was scandalized. He didn't want any contact with anyone that was sinful. He was only concerned about keeping the law just for himself. Maybe his own false inner peace. And our blessed Lord said to Simon "do you see this women?" "do you understand her?" Her sins are part of the sins of the world.

Then, he went on to say that he was taking on her sins and the pouring of the ointment was a preparation for His crucifixion and His burial. She was forgiven much and forgiveness costs an awful lot. Forgiveness is love in action. And love means sin bearing. Forgiveness can only be accomplished by sin bearing. And sin bearing means a cross. It means that to God. And it must mean that to us.

That is why our blessed Lord said, "If any man would be my disciple let him take up his cross and follow me." The meaning of the cross is love bearing the sin of the beloved because of oneness with Him. We can know the sin bearer Christ only as we bear the sins of others. We are redeemed in order to be redeemers.

And we are not saved until God makes us saviors. The Christian has to go with our Lord into the garden of Gethsemane and must pass from there to Calvary filling up in his body what is lacking to the suffering of Christ for His body sake which is the Church. We can not, like Pilot, wash our hands and say "I am innocent of the blood of the world and innocent of the suffering of the world.

If the Church is a church, indeed, it is a body of sin bearing people. People who love with the love of God that is shed abroad in their hearts they are a body of people who can forgive because they've been forgiven and who have been loved.

And therefore they can become lovers. Unless the Church of Christ is by love so united with the whole of mankind. That the sin of the world is the sin of the church. The disgrace of the world is the disgrace of the church. The shame of the world the shame of the Church. The poverty of the world is the poverty of the church. Then, it is no church at all.

The church is not and never can be an end in itself. It is a means of salvation for the world, not just our own sanctification. We can't save ourselves alone. We pray in the context of our Father, not my Father. Our daily bread, not my daily bread. The church is the agent of salvation for mankind. It is not a refuge of peace. It is an army preparing for war. We seek security. But only in sacrifice.

And this is the mark of the church and the hallmark of the cross itself. The sin of our modern slums and the degradation that they cause. The sin of our overcrowded rotten houses and the ugliness and vice they bring. The sin of unemployment with the damnation of body and soul that it means to men and women. The sins of the heartless thoughtless luxury on one end standing out against the squalid and degrading poverty of Africa, Asia and Latin America the other. The sin of commercial trickery and dishonesty and the wholesale defrauding of the poor. The sin of prostitution and the murder of women and children by disease. The sin of war the very sins which is but the bursting and festering of all the filth that the others have bread in years of miscalled peace.

If all of that is not laid upon the church as a burden and upon us as members of the church and if we do not feel it we are not worthy members of the church, we have missed our vocation. This is Christian morality. Not just the keeping of the commandments. Its love . Its total commitment. And Its taking upon our selves the sins of others.

This is the new law.

Love God, love your neighbor.