My little Ben is quite the thinker...but if you read this blog, then you already knew that :)
Lately, he's been asking questions that are tough for me to answer. Heck, they're hard for me to just think about, never mind give a reasonable answer to!
"Mommy, nothing is perfect, right? So why do we even have the word 'perfect'?"
"Mommy, nothing is really exact. It's impossible. So why do we have the word 'exact'?"
Ahh, absolutes. How to describe to a 7 year old that sometimes the absence of something can be just as descriptive as something that is? How do you explain that some words are more of a concept or an idea...than something literal?
See...my brain hurts. My eyes cross and my straight hair thinks about curling. This kid...he doesn't even have front teeth...how can he be thinking about this stuff?!
But then, I was vacuuming the other day. It's always amazing to me how I have the best talks with God during the most mundane times of my day (taking a shower, washing dishes, folding laundry, etc.). I guess it's because my brain can check out, focus on the task at hand, and just listen.
Suddenly, I was reminded of a time in my life when I was so confused about God and His LAW. Have you read the Old Testament - really gone through all those intricate and laborious laws? Holy moly! It's IMPOSSIBLE to follow the law perfectly (there's that word again).
So why on earth would a loving God give us a law that is impossible to follow? Why...to set us up for failure? To force us into sin merely by making the law too heavy a burden to carry? Does He want us feeling like failures our whole lives?
Eventually, I had to set the issue aside and just accept that some things are beyond my understanding. There's God. There's His Law. And there's me. And, thank our good and merciful God...there is His grace. I don't have to carry the burden of the law because he carried it for me, and that's good enough.
But still...it's sort of been sitting in the back of my brain all these years. Until just lately...while I was vacuuming.
It was then that I realized that my questions were a lot like the ones Ben has been asking me.
Nothing is perfect or exact, yet we have words for thing that are impossible. The concept or idea is real...but it cannot be literally true for humanity. So why the concept or idea? Maybe, just maybe, it's because perfection and precision really DOES exist. Not in us, but in HIM.
And maybe God's law is much more than just the impossible burden it seems to be. Maybe it's an expression of God's nature. Exact. Perfect. Unchanging. And when we felt the guilt and the burden of our imperfection...our tendency to reject God and do it our way...our sinfulness...ONLY then can we truly comprehend and really feel what mercy and grace are about.
So thank God for the impossible little words we use every day without really contemplating. And thank God for my 7 year old who God unwittingly uses to school his old mom :-)
Some more food for thought:
~"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Jesus, Matthew 5:17) Who could fulfill the law but God himself?
~"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law", Jesus replied. (Mark 10:5) If our hearts were soft toward God and His ways, the law would not have been necessary to reveal the nature of God and His ways.
~ "But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, 'this man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'" (Luke 15:2) We can have the law or we can have Jesus.
~ "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law." (Jesus, Luke 16:17) The law is still in place. Jesus' coming did not nullify the law. Again, we can choose the law or we can choose Jesus.
~ "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17)
~"Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:39) We could not be justified because we could not follow the letter of the law exactly.
~ "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." (Romans 3:20) YES! That's what I was trying to say :)
~ "The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more" (Romans 5:20) We didn't sin because of the law, rather the law revealed where we were already sinning. And as we became aware of our sin, we could also comprehend the great grace and mercy of God.
~ "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14) Thank God!
~ "the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so." (Romans 8:7)
~ "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4) Righteousness not for everyone...for everyone who believes. Big difference. If a person doesn't believe in Jesus, then he is still under the law.
~ "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) "All" means...all. Everyone has/will sin. Thankfully, Jesus is for everyone and no one has to be condemned for their sinfulness. If only they would believe...