Sunday night I get together with a group of women reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. We are beginning again at the beginning since we started getting into it at the start of the “summer” and then had to drop it as we all scattered for vacation and such.
We got into a discussion on the subject of grace and law.
Grace is sort of a foreign subject to mothers and in this group we all are. We set boundaries for our kids, to help them learn and to give them a more secure place to grow up – a place where they know their limits. To help them learn the limits we dole out punishment if the lines are crossed. Of course we do dole out grace too but we sure like it when our kids obey the rules. Maybe that is one place where we learn and have ingrained in us this need for rules to obey – some easy measure to see if we are on the right track.
But God – he puts us into this place where there are no laws – no boundaries – freedom. There are of course the consequences that result from our actions and there are constraints that are tied into the way we recognize and respond to his love. But we humans like to set up systems of rules here too and substitute compliance with them for the harder task of listening and following Jesus’ spirit wherever he is leading.
I like this quote from the book I am currently reading – I Believe in the Holy Spirit by Michael Green.
“…we are not forgiven because we keep the law: but once we are forgiven we are called to keep it…
The law of God had demanded holiness, but could not enable it. The law remained an external authority expressing God’s requirements, but providing no power to keep them. The demand and the requirements still stand. But through the Spirit, God has given us the ability to fulfil those requirements… The Spirit of Jesus… provides a higher law than the law of sin and death.”
And how does this look for me? Well probably a change in my plans for this weekend so I can spend time working on a relationship with my daughter and her friend. Putting this relationship ahead of other things – good as they are in themselves. And listening, listening, listening to what God is saying to me and following where he is taking me rather than just sticking to the rules and looking pretty good.