Tuesday, February 07, 2017

On Law

On Law:  There are basically two kinds: (1) law as the way things ought to be, and (2) law as the way things are. (Beuchner, Wishful Thinking)

Yes, I'm still reading Wishful Thinking.  Yes, it's taking me a long time. But, I read a few paragraphs a day as my daily devotional, and his writing is so full of ideas that need to be savored and examined, that I wouldn't want to read it fast. 

Anyway, his paragraphs about law struck me. Think about the quote.  There is law that describes (and tries to enforce) things as they should be. We have laws against theft, because we should not steal. We have laws against pollution, because we should try to protect the creation we share. These try to describe the world as it should be - a world where we respect each other and God.

Then there are laws that describe the way things are. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can change form but is neither created nor destroyed. It's a law that describes the way things are. The law of gravity - drop an apple and it falls to the ground. Newton put it into words, but his words didn't attempt to make things the way they should be - his words described the way things are. E=mc2 isn't guidance for the universe. 

So, when a prophet tells the people of Israel that if they continue acting the way they are, that something will happen to them, the prophet isn't forecasting what will happen if his words aren't obeyed. The prophet is explaining the way life is. When we learn that if we place money and possessions at the center of our life, our hearts will grow cold and we will be alone with our belongs, we aren't being told of what happens because we have disobeyed the commandment to have no other gods before God. We are being told of life as it is. Failure to love has consequences as certain as the law of gravity on an apple.

There is law that describe the way life is. The way things are. And sometimes the scripture is God's way of telling us the way life is, and through God's love, we are being instructed in the way to live life in this world. We are being given a heads up out of grace and love.

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