The law exposes our sin and shows us our need for Christ.
The law is a viable and valuable guide for our lives, guiding us in the way pleasing to our father and life-giving for us.
The law is all this. But it is not able to change our hearts.
We affirm this but then demand implicitly and explicitly legal compliance from ourselves and others forgetting what complex creatures we are. We are not machines programmable by law and able to be steered by command like a horse. Do we really comprehend the significance of this?
Theodore Roosevelt was hustled home from service in the New York legislature for the birth of his first child. He returned to Albany after this joy, but then was summed back. Before he reached it, a dark cloud had settled over his home. His wife had died. And eleven hours later, his mother, too, was dead.
How do we process such sorrow? How do we manage such an assault? In such a setting would I be able to heed the law, to “not sorrow like the rest of men who have no hope?” No, I would not.
The book Mornings on Horseback, as I have pointed out, is a book about what made Theodore Roosevelt what he was. But what has made you or me or those we preach to what they are? In the face of the law, some of us will be crushed because our background and experience and personality and biological composition make us unable to respond. Complexity of this nature yields not to law, only to grace.
As I grow older, do I see more of Jesus in me? No. I see more of the less charitable attributes of my ancestors. And no law will change that. It is who I am. It is subject only to the Potter’s hands of grace.
I want others to be conformed to the image of Christ, and this will mean preaching the law to them. It will mean preaching the law to me. But it will mean understanding that they and I are incapable of law-keeping. And the law I’m able to keep may be the one another fails often to practice. Patience must rule, not condemnation.
Complexity yields not to law. Let us run to grace.