I have a friend who is fond of saying, “Today’s gospel is tomorrow’s law.” I’ve heard him say it in a variety of contexts.
– When Christians believe that public school is the only appropriate way to be missional with your family.
– When Christians say that home schooling is the only good and proper way to educate your child.
– When the mark of your spirituality becomes whether or not you have adopted a child (or how many).
– When those believers who feel the liberty to consume alcohol turn up their noses at those who refrain.
Do you see it? We have an immense propensity to take the gospel and turn it into law. We love to take good and turn it into chains. Why do we do that?
The reasons are many, but I think a large part is that we love the measuring stick of the law. We love to compare ourselves to others, and to gauge our own spirituality based on performance. We love to take the law of God and make it into a ladder. Up, up, up we climb, and the more people below us the better we feel. For though we might not be close to the top, we’re sure doing better than those people below us.
So much do we love the law that we can form and fashion anything – even those wonderful examples of freedom or grace – into law. Our potential to distort the gifts of God to our own ends is limitless.
How is that the gospel remains the gospel – that those things in which there is liberty remain those things in which there is liberty? How can we be saved from our tendency toward distortion?
Surely not through our own power.
But herein lies again the wonder of the gospel, and here again is where we can be brought to awe because of its far-reaching power. For the gospel is the only answer for those, like me, who distort the gospel. There is grace for us, too. When we preach the gospel to ourselves daily, we will find that God will tear down the rungs of our carefully constructed ladders. And when those ladders are broken into shards and splinters, what will be left towering over the piles of rubble is the wooden beams of the cross.
And we’ll stand there at the base on perfectly level ground.