“So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now faith that is come, we are no longer under a tutor. For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.”
From the moment of our baptism God has held us in the spontaneous life of the Spirit. As sons and daughters we have been called to live freely in the Spirit, not under the law but by grace. The Christian faith has always struggled with this freedom. The New Testament itself grapples with it. Paul embraces this freedom with a frightening certainty. James seems to be hedging his bets. Has God given us in this freedom a load that is too much for us to bear? Is the water too deep? That depends.
As the freedom of the gospel coaxes the Christian into deeper water the old sinner in us, standing comfortably in the shallows and equipped with the water wings of the law, immediately mounts a defense; ‘You just can’t do what you want! God wants obedience after all! You have to do something to show God you have a serious faith!’
If freedom only serves to evoke this self conscious awareness of my lack of freedom, I will be tempted to turn to the Law for remediation, balance and security. And when I do I may discover a kind of relief being moored to the Law. I will find a kind of comfortable certainty there that freedom simply does not give. When the Christian lives this way, daring only to wade into the shallows of freedom, a little bit of freedom is all you get. The Church has stood in the shallows of freedom, wearing the water wings of the Law, for much of its history.
If my freedom, however, is informed not by fear and self-consciousness but by the Cross, something else happens. I am taken out of myself and taken up into the spontaneous life of Christ, where the only Law that is defining is the law of love. When the Cross is the starting and ending point of faith, Christ becomes the end of the law. I am able to remove the water wings of the law and plunge headlong into the deep waters of faith, hope and love, into the depths of the grace that by water and the word has set me free.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”