Jen’s Gem: Follow one law – love.
A quick Google search to determine how many laws we have in this country turned up an interesting result. No one knows. While it’s reported that approximately 125 new laws are enacted each year, apparently Congress has been slacking and this number has been reduced as of late.
The formula to create legislation is pretty simple. New crime? New law. Let’s face it. Our society is getting crazier by the minute so one can only imagine that additional rules that attempt to force us to play nice in the sandbox are forthcoming.
I’m not against laws and rules. In fact, my nature prefers them. I like order. I like knowing what I can and cannot do. I like formulas that provide clear solutions to problems. It’s probably why I was so good at math in my school years. Memorize this formula, apply it to the problem and voila!
Apparently I’m not alone. Just look at the volumes of “how to” books that have been published. Pages and pages focused on everything from how to build a house to how to apply makeup to how to succeed. It’s mind boggling. But we buy these books and place our hopes in their words, hoping upon hope that our problems will be solved.
I don’t know about you but after reading many of these self-help books years ago, I realized that they were all saying the exact same thing. Oh sure, one author might describe your problem du jour a bit differently, using more eloquent words or creating new catch phrases, but in essence, there was nothing new.
The folks living in Old Testament times had many laws designed to help them be the best version of themselves. Scholars note that there were 613 laws that had to be followed. (Actually compared to the tens of thousands of laws we have today, this doesn’t seem so bad!) These laws were designed to keep people in right standing before God. The problem? If they broke one law, they broke them all. Pretty harsh wouldn’t you say?
The word law is defined as “the system of rules which a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and which it may enforce by the imposition of penalties.”
I want to focus on one phrase – “regulating the actions of its members.” If I interpret this correctly, we need laws so that we can tell people how they should act, how they should behave. It would stand to reason then that the worse our behavior gets, the more laws we need, right?
Our burgeoning law libraries and backed up court cases are a clear indicator to me that our system of laws may not be working all that well. Perhaps it’s time for a change.
As I noted in last week’s post, I was a member of a highly regulated religion for most of my life. It had a rule book and consequences if you broke the rules. However, it was impossible to keep all of these rules and do everything right; even for me – a rule follower.
After a while, I felt like a robot, just going through the motions because someone told me I had to if I wanted to go to heaven. I may not be a Bible scholar, but I’m pretty sure God didn’t create me to be a robot.
Jesus didn’t (and still doesn’t) want robots following Him either. He wants relationships with people. He wants friendship. He wants communication. You can’t do that with a robot who’s so busy following rules that they can’t see the forest through the trees.
Jesus likes simple. In fact, you could say He was the original de-clutterer. He took 613 laws and transformed them into one law. When asked what it was, He responded:
“Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22: 36-40)
One law. Love. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said it slightly differently: “First do no harm.”
If we love others, we naturally won’t do anything to harm them. If we love God, we won’t do anything that would break our relationship with Him. It’s so simple, it’s almost incomprehensible. However, this is the love that God has for us.
This week, I’d like to encourage you to reflect on the above passage and consider if you want your relationship with God to be based on a set of over 600 rules or on just one.