“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
The columned portico in the background of the photo above is located in the Roman Forum. Six pairs of golden statues representing the principal Greek and Roman gods, male and female, were displayed in the large rectangular shrines behind the portico. It is called the ‘Portico of the Harmonious Gods’. Disharmonious may have been a better word.
The Greek and Roman myths depict gods who were capricious and unreliable. They might favor you or they might go against you. You could never be certain. They often fought among themselves and were known to take out their jealousies on unsuspecting humans. At least part of the role of ancient religion, therefore, was designed to keep the gods off your back!
Into this puzzle of ancient religions came the God of Israel with a covenant. Do this and you will be rewarded. Fail to do this and you will be punished. This covenant relationship spoke not to a world of capricious uncertainty but to a world of order. This was a great advance over the multitude of gods and godesses and religious cults… but it is not good enough.
Just suppose that were the end of the story where God is concerned, that He punishes and rewards and no more. That would mean that everyone would get what they deserve. No more and no less. That would be the law of justice. Justice has its important place in life. But those who think that justice will create a harmonious world are deluding themselves. The unrelenting application of justice results in two kinds of people; the proud and the despairing.
Blind to the truth of God, the ancients observed the capriciousness and injustice reflected in their own lives, and the world, and assumed that whatever gods may be must also share these characteristics.Through Moses and the prophets, God took the initiative and revealed to humanity that the universe is one of law, order and justice, giving us what we deserve.
In Jesus Christ, God has moved beyond law and justice revealing that mercy, love and forgiveness, which lie most deeply in His heart, are His gifts to us, the undeserving.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”