Feb 1, 2008

Law and Gospel.

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

John 6:15

For years, I couldn't figure out this passage from the Gospel according to John. Didn't Jesus want to be King? Was the crowd going to grab him and and force him to be King against his will? What was he afraid of?

What I didn't really understand was that the crowds "didn't get it". They'd missed the point of Jesus' gospel message. For a long time, I didn't "get it" either.

But it slowly dawned on me – if you can call the breaking of the sun (Son?) over the horizon, shining light into the darkness, "slow". Jesus had said it to Pilate plain enough: "My Kingdom is not of this world." Forcing the Kingdom was not only implausible... it was against God's will.

Herein lies the problem with thinking we can become a "Christian nation" by passing legislation. It's simply a return to the Law, which we are hopeless to follow (but good at both faking it, and pointing out other's failure to obey). Jesus himself would not allow his name or his power to be used for political purposes.

The change in people must come from the inside by way of God's life-giving Holy Spirit (to be born a new man/woman), not from the outside by the imposition of the Law. The exterior change is only a whitewashed tomb.

When we try to impose God's will (The Law) by human initiative, Jesus withdraws from us. Stage left, or stage right, he leaves us to our own devices.

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