The Law, Weakened By The Flesh


Today’s readings (click below to open in new window/tab):
Psalms 84; 150, Genesis 44:1-17, Romans 8:1-10, John 5:25-29

Paul’s letter to the Romans builds a complex theological argument slowly and at length, so examining a small piece of it doesn’t give us a flavor of the whole text. That disclaimer aside, let’s consider the following (half) verse: “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.” Paul was talking about Christ fulfilling the law in a spiritual way that no mere human ever could. Notice Paul does not judge the law itself, which was given by God, but on how humans managed to corrupt it.

If human beings can corrupt God’s law, imagine what we’ve done with man-made ones.

How many laws and institutions have we elevated to nearly sacred status, only to abuse them from the inside out? Most major Christian denominations we know today exist because people insisted agreement on a specific human interpretation of God’s will was more important than learning to live as Christ’s one body. History has borne bloody witness to the corruption and danger of religions seeking to govern rather than serve.

For many Americans the ideas of democracy and capitalism have mingled with Christianity in an unhealthy way, much like divine right of kings and feudalism have been rationalized in the past. Faith has been used to justify democracy and tyranny, capitalism and socialism. God’s law – fulfilled in Christ – is beyond limited political and economic definitions.

We want Jesus to be on our “side” and can’t imagine that he’s not, but whenever we splice the flesh of  political and economic philosophies onto our faith, we weaken it. When we conflate human laws, constitutions, authorities, and systems with faith in Christ, we tend to mold our Christianity to fit our politics – liberal or conservative – when we should be doing just the opposite. Christian faith must stand outside any government or economy, because we are called to challenge them when they are unjust – and they are all eventually unjust.

All human laws and institutions will fade. The ones we support right now are no exception. If we are going to campaign for something, let it be God’s eternal Kingdom.

Comfort: Jesus has freed us from the obligations of perfection.

Challenge: Work hard to read the Gospel for what it is, not what you’d like it to be.

Prayer: God of justice, I dedicate myself to you before any human institution. Guide my thoughts and actions to serve you and not my own limited perspective. Thank your for the eternal gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Discussion: What political, economic, legal, or other beliefs have you spliced onto your faith? In what ways does that keep you from being open to God’s larger law of love?

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