In late 2006, I came back from two years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) totally convinced that the rule of law is one of the greatest gifts any nation can have. Congo is a “failed state” and, not being ruled by law, it is ruled by chaos. Millions have died since the late 1990s from violence, malnutrition and entirely preventable diseases.
Recently, I wrote a blog noting that every kingdom, including the Kingdom of God, has a ruler, a realm and a reign. God is the ruler. The world and everything in it is God’s realm, and God’s reign is eternal. But how is this Kingdom ruled?
God Rules by Law
Surprised? In saying this, we use the word “law” in its broadest sense. Laws are patterns either imposed by authority from the outside (e.g., the Ten Commandments or civil laws imposed by a government) or built by God into creation (e.g., the laws of nature). The laws of nature are the laws of God every bit as much as the Ten Commandments.
Christians believe that salvation is by grace through faith and that obedience to the Law, any law, cannot save us; however, law is not opposed to grace. In fact, in important ways, law and grace are mutually dependent. Like walls and a roof, they need each other. Like the physical and the spiritual, they can be distinguished, but not divided. For any nation or people to experience the grace of security and prosperity they must be ruled by law, not by the whims of a ruler, group or the people themselves.
When God gave the Law to the Israelites through Moses, it was a great gift of grace to a people with no identity except being the slaves of others more than 400 years. They were given an identity as God’s people, a system of justice, basic hygiene and sanitation to maintain public health, and an economic system that provided protections for the poor.
The Law of Love
When asked which commandment was the greatest, in Mark 12:30-31, Jesus replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Jesus clearly taught that love of God and love of neighbor were to be held together. It is not possible to have one without the other.
Why is there no greater commandment than these? In 1 John 4:8 we read: “God is love.” At the center of creation is God who is love. Creation’s laws or patterns come from love and lead to love. All creation, physical and spiritual, is accountable and this too is grace. One of the great maladies of our time is lack of purpose in life. Accountability creates responsibility, responsibility creates purpose. Our being accountable to the “Law of Love” not only gives us responsibility, but also the purpose we so desperately need.
Jesus was clear that this commandment of God, this law, applies to all, especially His followers. Ultimately, what God commands will be done. “You shall” is both predictive and prescriptive. It points both to where God is guiding creation and how we are to get there. The “Law of Love” has been given to guide us, protect us and enable us to experience life as God would have us experience it. We at FH believe that the “Law of Love” calls us to ministry to the poor. Will you join us?