So, how do you feel about the law of gravity? Do you like that law? Do you enjoy that law?
Newton’s formula for the law of gravity is to the right. No, I don’t understand what it means. I just know the apple fell off the tree and hit Newton on the head, and the formula was the result.
Strange questions aren’t they?
Why would anyone care about how you feel about that law? The law just is. This law is reality. It is how the world works, how the universe works. Your feelings about the law of gravity are irrelevant.
Careful obedience to this law of gravity is quite another matter. It is of crucial importance that you obey this law. You don’t step off the top of a 20-story building into the air without paying the consequences of violating the law of gravity. To violate is to fail to comply with a rule. It doesn’t matter how much you protest your frustration about the gravity law as you are falling toward the ground!
- You don’t jump out of airplanes unless you have a parachute. That’s the law of gravity.
- You don’t go on roller coasters unless you believe the ride is mechanically and structurally safe and sound. That’s the law of gravity.
- And I respect gravity so much that I will NEVER do what you see the person in the photo doing on the ledge. I not only respect gravity, I fear violating it.
By the way, I hope you do value (appreciate) the law of gravity. Because without gravity, you would float up into the air until there is no air and then you are in the cold vacuum of space and you die (because you would be violating other laws about lungs and oxygen). Oh, and the earth would go flying out of orbit around the sun and, after a little bit, the planet would become more like Mars, incapable of sustaining human life.
Gravity is a wonderful thing. The law of gravity is really the principle of gravity or the reality of gravity. Ignore it at your peril. Follow it and you will flourish.
Most of the time you don’t need to remember the commandment to obey gravity. Every now and then you do need to be reminded. Apparently, the freestyle mountain climbing aficionados push that law to its limits. Occasionally they pay for it. When they do, no one gripes about the gravity law as being unfair to freestyle mountain climbing.
Do you see where this is going?
God’s Laws and Your Flourishing
The laws of God are the principles or the realities about how life works. About how moral life works. About how people work. About how relationships work. About how spirituality works. And because God is the one who created-designed life, people, relationships, spirituality, morality (and everything else), God is uniquely qualified to know how they work.
Unfortunately, these laws are not as obvious as the law of gravity or the law of water (in the right amount it satisfies thirst, too much and you drown) or the law of fire (in the right amount it heats and warms, too much and you get burned).
And what is doubly unfortunate is that we don’t feel good about many of these laws. We would like to violate them. We would like to write our own laws and rules. One of the current beliefs is there are no laws. And it is forbidden to forbid or “You can’t tell me what to do.” Don’t tell me what to do about spiritual gravity, or relational water, or moral fire. I will decide what is right for me.
I don’t want to go to bed. I don’t want to clean up my room. I don’t want to share my toy with my brother—and you can’t make me!
This is our sinful human tendency. Knowing we have this tendency, God doesn’t waste time with moral suggestions.
God doesn’t make suggestions like, “Why don’t you try monogamy?” “Why don’t you consider avoiding adultery?” “Think about being honest and ponder not stealing.” We don’t need suggestions. We are disinclined toward them already. We need the clarity of truth presented in normative ways—blunt, direct, to-the-point statements that explain this is the way reality works.
So God gives us clarity about reality, about his Will and Way in the forms of instructions, prohibitions, warnings, promises, and commands. He gave us his Words about reality.
Not Easy, But Good
If you want to read just one chapter in the Bible where the writer gets deep into this truth about the laws-commands-Words of God, it is Psalm 119. Read the whole psalm. Here you see respect, appreciation, valuing, and love for all of God’s commands.
They are so you would have life … abundant life … real and better, more and eternal life than you ever imagined. That is the quality of life Jesus came to bring.
It doesn’t mean they are easy, just that they are GOOD.
God doesn’t give you laws or commands to make you miserable. He gives them because in following them you are aligning your life with the way God has designed life to work. The Christian is not free from these laws, nor are you free from the consequences of not following God’s laws. You are forgiven for not following them, but you are foolish when you don’t follow them. Following these laws makes for flourishing. Ignoring them leads to nothing but pain and hurt, and that is foolish.
God doesn’t want you only forgiven, God wants you to be free and to flourish.
When you reorder your life around the Will and Way of God you find you are free and able to enjoy life. That is wisdom. And this is the wisdom of human flourishing.
Wisdom and humility are grateful for the Law-Realities and being reminded about them, and getting a strong word of exhortation about them. I pray you will join with me, and say with the Psalmist, “O how I love your law. I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119:97).
Here is an expanded PDF: Reflection on Grace and Law.
It includes all three parts. There is additional content that was NOT in the blog posts.
Walking in the Way and Will of God with you,