Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Parable of the Teenager in Love

Here is a parable which illustrates the Gospel truth that God's grace empowers us to live righteously, rather than excuses us to live lawlessly.

There was a certain teenager, and of course his parents wanted to teach him how to be a pleasant person to live with. So they wrote a list of chores for their son, including all the dos and don't dos. The list included such items as: take the garbage out, tidy your bedroom, wash the car, always shut the gate behind you etc.

But their son still lacked the necessary motivation to complete any task adequately, despite his parents reminding him again and again and again. His parents were almost in despair to know what else they could do.

But one day when their son came home from school, without even being told, he went straight into his bedroom and tidied it up; then he came out to the kitchen and took the garbage out to the bin; while he was out there he cleaned the car; and when he came back inside, he even made sure the gate was nicely closed behind him - and he hadn't even got himself anything to eat yet, hadn't even turned the TV on. His parents wondered what had gotten into him! After a short time the doorbell rang, and then his parents understood - there at the gate stood a beautiful girl from school.

When your heart falls in love, it's a different story! There is hardly any need for a list of chores once a person is in love - for his own heart tells him what needs to be done; and not only does it tell him what needs to be done - it also gives him the motivation to actually do it. The list of chores is replaced by one new principle, love.

In the same way, Christ replaced the Law of Moses with His grace, which teaches us the one, new, all-encompassing principle - love one another. Love doesn't do anything bad to anyone: therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.

The New Covenant creates a new heart within us, a heart that has God's nature and God's Spirit dwelling inside, a heart of love. Therefore like the teenager in love, we automatically fulfill all righteousness - we fulfill our "chores" without even needing the list (the Law). When you fall in love, it's like the list gets written in your heart instead of on a piece of paper. When we were born again, God plunged us into love; in fact, He shed abroad His love in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. It's natural to walk in love when you're in love - and love is the fulfilling of the Law.

We who believe in Christ are no longer under the list of dos and don'ts (the Old Covenant, the Law) but God has given us a new heart in which He inscribed His laws. Since Christ instituted a new commandment, "Love one another, as I have loved you", and God wrote it in our hearts, now we automatically do what the Law wanted us to do all along - that is, we walk in love. That is what the Law was aiming at all along - that we know how to walk in love. It's just that the Law couldn't empower us to walk in love - but God's grace does.

We fulfill the righteousness of the Law (like the list of chores, with its dos and don'ts), not because we are under the Law, but because it is only natural for us to walk in love now, since God poured out His love into our very heart by His Spirit the very moment we were born again and received God's grace.

"The Law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

No comments: