This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for October 10) is written by Nicolas Cox who serves as minister of small groups and spiritual formation at Community Christian Church, White Marsh, Maryland.
God’s Perfect Law (Psalm 19:7-14)
By Nicolas Cox
Whether it’s the speed limit or regulations of a homeowners association, we tend to dislike laws. Restrictions seem to rankle us. Laws point out what is black and what is white—what is wrong and what is right. It’s amazing how hard we search for a messy gray somewhere in between. We become experts in finding loopholes that will allow us to ignore or circumvent rules that are inconvenient or feel oppressive to us. This is true for society’s laws as well as laws from God.
I frequently have conversations with people who want me to clarify whether something they are doing, or would like to do, is a sin. “Would it be a sin if I moved in with my boyfriend, even if we sleep in different rooms?” “Would it be a sin if I exaggerated on a job interview?” “Is it a sin to fudge the numbers on my tax return, even if I really need the money?” “Is it a sin to miss church if I have tickets to a football game?”
The person asking the question almost always wants me to draw a line in the sand and point to it, saying, “You can safely go this far, but no further.”
Missing the Point
I walk away from these conversations with a distinct impression people are missing the point.
Is the goal of the Christian life simply to stay on the safe side of the line, all the while edging as close to it as possible? Do we think a party is going to break out along that line of “sin” and “nonsin” we might miss out on?
Instead of asking where the line is, perhaps we should move away from that gray area and see how close we can get to God! Many people are content to live as close to the line as possible, not realizing this was never the point of God’s law.
In doing this, people misjudge the power of sin. Sin, as described in the Bible, is not simply a list of no-nos we should avoid. The Bible describes sin as a powerful force that, when fully grown, leads to death.
Loving God’s Law
Why is God’s law beautiful? Why is it more precious than gold and sweeter than honey? Why should we meditate on God’s law and keep it in our hearts?
Because it can keep us from sin that leads to death.
Is that how you normally think about God’s law? For many years I pictured God’s law as nothing more than a list of rules and restrictions. I had the impression God was a cosmic killjoy who delighted in keeping me from the fun and excitement everyone else enjoyed. To me, God’s law was nothing more than a speed limit—an annoyance that could be ignored so long as I did it carefully.
God’s law draws us nearer to him. Have we missed that simple fact? Perhaps we have exchanged God’s perfect law, a law that steers us increasingly into his presence, for a list of restrictions.
Instead of straddling the line, perhaps we should race toward God with all of our might.
The law of the Lord is perfect. It revives our souls. It brings us joy. It brings light to our eyes. The law of the Lord endures. And when we live in the law of the Lord, our path leads to God. It’s no wonder the psalmist loves the law of the Lord. It has the ability to preserve our lives and bring us closer to God.
*All Scripture references are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.
|HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS|
|Oct. 4: Psalm 19:1-6|
|Oct. 5: Psalm 105:1-11|
|Oct. 6: Deuteronomy 29:25-29|
|Oct. 7: Deuteronomy 30:1-10|
|Oct. 8: Deuteronomy 31:19-26|
|Oct. 9: Jeremiah 31:31-37|
|Oct. 10: Psalm 19:7-14|
ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Nicholas Cox, minister of small groups and spiritual formation at Community Christian Church in White Marsh, Maryland, has an MDiv from Emmanuel School of Religion, Johnson City, Tennessee.