A longer thought #1: Law, heaven and freedom

Its funny how we view certain words. They are always loaded, for example the word “interesting”. We can mean, “I really like that and it has my attention” or we can mean “that is weird but I’m trying to be polite”.

Sometimes how we load words can stand between us and the meaning intended by the writer. No more so than in the Bible. How do these words make you feel:

  • Law
  • Decree
  • Precept
  • Statute
  • Word

I bet you feel all tied up and constrained already. Which means the sentence
“your statutes are my heritage for ever, they are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111)
Might not make a whole lot of sense to you.

The problem is, the kind of law givers we are used to, are not always very like God, and because of this we work our thinking back to front.

We say to ourselves, laws mean I have to pay taxes which feel unfair, laws favour others over me… laws constrict my freedom and are a way for people in power to have control over me.

So if God makes laws he must be controlling and unfair.

But this is an “interesting” kind of logic. Lets try doing this the right way round:

God is good, and all that he has created is good, even if a lot of it has been broken by other people.
God always acts in loving, kind ways and his aim is that we will become fully human, in a perfect relationship, through Jesus, with him.

Therefore his laws must be about something else other than unfair control.

Let me tell you a story.

One day, a man went out to the park for his lunch. He did this everyday, and he had his favourite spot on a bench at a local view point. He was particularly looking forward to the view today as he had been stuck in a hot office all morning trying to sort out the problems other people had created.
However as he approached his long awaited peace and quiet, he came across a large sign saying “by decree of the local health and safety board this area is out of bounds”.

Now this story could go one of two ways. The man could say to himself;

“the health and safety board, all the want to do is restrict my freedom, they don’t care that I have been in a hot office all morning, how unfair, how constricting”

At which point he decides to depart from the health and safety board’s decree, by pushing past the sign towards his favourite seat…

And slipping on the loose earth, he falls over the edge and breaks his leg in several places.

Of course, he could have said to himself;

” I know the health and safety board are hard working and conciousness people, they must have put the sign there for a reason”

The man obeys the decree and not only saves himself a broken leg, but in searching for another spot in which to eat his lunch, finds a second view point further on he has never walked far enough to find… and in completely refreshed for his afternoon’s work.

And this is what God is like. Loving, kind, selfless, and on our side. Which is why the psalmist feels free to say: “your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105) and “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey in my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)

God’s laws, are in fact the state lines of heaven. What is inside God’s law is inside heaven, and what is outside God’s law is outside heaven… in the extreme, it is in hell.

For example, love your neighbour as yourself. Isn’t genuine concern, kindness and blessing towards another heavenly? Isn’t meanness, aggression and anger anything but?

So we find ourselves saying with the psalmist: “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me! Psalm 119:133
Father God, may your kingdom of heaven come to us. May we find your laws growing in our hearts so that heaven overflows into our thoughts, words and actions;
In Jesus name, Amen.

  • How much do you know about God’s laws? (Try reading Matthew five, six and seven).
  • What implications do they have for your life right now?
  • What three actions could you take to step inside heaven, rather than outside?
  • Have you ever read all of Psalm 119? (It’s worth a go).
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