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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, June 13, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Romans 3:21–31

But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (NRSV)

The Law of Love has replaced the Law of People. What liberating news that must have been for the early followers of Jesus! And what liberating news for us today. It also comes with great responsibility. It’s a lot easier to slap a rule on a group of people in order to get them to behave a certain way than it is to do the hard work of cultivating love to affect behavioral change. Because we are always and forever “on the way” to becoming the perfect community of God, rules become necessary to make sure we’re acting in love even when we’re not living in love.

Such are the tensions our global family faces. If everyone were living from a place of abundant love, no one would think twice about wearing face masks in public, staying put instead of traveling, putting group sacrifice above personal liberty. Alas! Such is the frailty of human nature that not every single person is acting out of a place of love at all times. So if laws have to step in to do our loving for us every once in a while, well, so be it. Temporary solutions for temporary times; temporary kingdom rules for a temporary people forever “on the way.”

“So are we trying to use faith to abolish the law? Absolutely not! In fact, we now are free to uphold the law as God intended” (Voice translation).

God of love instead of the law, help us to joyfully submit to the rules needed inside of our public spaces so that everyone in our global family feels safe, protected, healthy, and, most importantly, loved. Give us the eyes to see that we are indeed free to uphold the law as you intended and to love as you intended—communally and sacrificially. Amen.

Written by Lois Snavely, Seminary Intern

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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