The new fence went in this past week around the playground at Trinity. It replaces the (quite ugly) temporary, plastic fencing that has been in place since the beginning of the school year.
We put the fence in to fulfill a state licensing requirement, needed because the Trinity Nursery School was expanding its hours. We crossed the threshold that meant that the fence was now necessary. To be totally honest, I’m glad there is now a fence. That playground, and its proximity to the parking lot (maybe 3′ away?), has always made me nervous. And because that lot on the south end of the building is where many of the staff park, and we have to back out of our spots towards the playground, I’ve always been super-nervous whenever I put my car into reverse there.
So the fence is in place, and I think we all feel much better.
Isn’t this also how our relationship with God works? When we think about how God relates to us, we often talk about two different aspects: law and Gospel.
Law is simple to understand. It is the rules. Centered around the 10 Commandments, there are a total of 613 laws that exist.
The Gospel is also easy to grasp. It means “Good News.” More specifically in this situation, the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Good news is there is grace and forgiveness!
We like to put Law and Gospel in opposition to each other. We think that because there was the law in the Old Testament, and Jesus in the New, that Jesus must have cancelled out the old. That the “law” is no longer relevant. This is a natural feeling. We tend to push back against rules and limitations.
But this is not how Jesus understood his role. In Matthew’s Gospel, he says ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” Jesus fulfills the law. Jesus makes the law complete. Jesus is the “why” of the law.
The new fence at Trinity feels like law. It is a boundary. It is rigid. It is a rule: “don’t go outside of this space.” But why do we have it? The new fence was put in because it protects our kids. It is there to keep them safe. It is there because we love them.
Likewise, God gave the law, all 613 of them, to protect us. It is to keep us safe. The law is there because God loves us.
One of my seminary professors said that “law and Gospel are the two sides of a very important coin. You can’t have one side without the other.” And ultimately, the law…the rules…do not exist because God has some weird hang up with limiting us. No. God gave us the law to protect and as a sign of God’s great love for us. You see, even deep within the DNA of the law, is love. God gives the law because of love.
When you see the new fence at Trinity, or really, any fence, anywhere, remember that there is almost always a “why.” And be reminded that God’s great why, for the Gospel and for the law, is always love.
God’s peace friends!