Either / Or . . .
Last time we discussed the concept of ‘political versus religious’ and whether is it really an ‘either/or’ situation. We compared this to the polarized relationship between ‘Law’ and ‘Grace’ that most of us have been taught in our church upbringing. It’s either one or the other, ‘L’ versus ‘G’. But is that what the Bible actually says ? Let’s do some digging.
But first, let’s back up for just a moment and define those two terms – political and religious. ‘Political’, by definition, is that which is ‘of, relating to, or dealing with the structure or affairs of government’. ‘Religious’, on the other hand (or perhaps the same hand) is ‘belief in, reverence to and obedience to a supernatural power seen as creator and governor of the universe and having to do with a system grounded in that belief ‘. Gee, sounds as if Mr. Franklin might have been onto something here. Could these two seemingly opposites be just the opposite of what they seem? . . . or something like that . . .
So what about ‘Law’ and ‘Grace’ ? Well, here again, let’s define some terms. If we were to ask you to define ‘Law’ in a general sense, what would be your answer ? Most folks we have asked this question of answered in these ways – order, structure, recognized standard of behavior. And the opposite of ‘law’ ? Disorder, lack of structure, violation of the standard, chaos, lawlessness. So what about ‘grace’ ? Most in the church understand ‘grace’ to be ‘unmerited favor’. It is the concept of having something really bad coming due to my behavior and instead receiving something really good without being able to do anything to earn it. That’s grace. And the opposite of ‘grace’ ? I deserve judgment and punishment without mercy and I get exactly what I deserve.
So if the opposite of ‘Law’ is ‘lawlessness’ and the opposite of ‘Grace’ is blind judgment and punishment, then how did we come to the conclusion that ‘Grace’ is the opposite of ‘Law’, that they are an ‘either/or’ ? Could it actually be that Law and Grace are ‘hand in glove’ and work in tandem, that they actually complete one another?
When we read the verses of Paul and the other Biblical writers, both Old and New, we need to remember they all answer to a Higher Authority. It’s kinda like in a secular work setting. There’s the Boss, the Boss’s Son, and those that work for the Boss and His Son. It’s really difficult to keep your job if you contradict the Boss or His Son. And the Son has no credibility if He says one thing and the Boss says another. They all have to be singing from the same page. So what does Yeshua, the Boss’s Son if you will, have to say on this matter ?
Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. John 8:28
For I have not spoken of my own accord; but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and what to speak, 50 and I know that his commands mean eternal life. And therefore what the Father has told me is what I speak. John 12:49-50
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” John 14:10
“For truly I (Yeshua) say to you, heaven and earth will pass away, but not the smallest letter or stroke of the pen shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matthew 5:18
Has all been accomplished as of yet ? . . . don’t think so . . . Shalom – J & R