C.D.s, Ponies and Jesus: the Fulfiller of the Law

Jesus Christ and he alone fulfils the law, because he alone lives in perfect communion with God.

-Bonhoeffer

I am in the process of moving right now and I came to a happy realization as I was trying to conserve space. I do not need my cds anymore. None of them. In fact, I sold four Beatles albums, along with some other stuff, for under four dollars the other day and, as short as the end of my stick was, I really did not mind.

Now, before you start to pat my back for my disregard for all earthly possessions, I will be happy to disabuse you of the notion. In all honesty, the reason I am willing to part so readily with my cds is that they are completely obsolete.

I mean, seriously, who needs a cd player when I have an ipod with 80g worth of memory? Add on top of that all the places I could get free music in a second if I wanted to, along with the fact that my iphone could handle a good chunk of my fairly wide music library, and you can see why the old ways of cd life is a memory.

We do this with pretty much everything we have outgrown, right?

When I was a kid, I rode horses and my brother and I, much to the thinly veiled chagrin of my dad, even played with plastic horses at recess time. My mom, who was the perpetrator of the horse-loving in our home, would read to us a story about a little boy and his pony, named “Little Black.” The boy loved his four-legged friend, brushed his hair and fed him carrots- the whole nine yards. All was well until the arrival of a big beautiful horse named “Big Red.”

Big Red was, well, big and red, if my memory serves me right, and the boy started spending all his time with his new, more impressive equine friend. After a short time, the boy had forgotten about Little Black altogether. He had outgrown Little Black. Who needs a little pony when you have a big impressive Stallion, right?

People that keep obsolete things around end up on shows like Hoarders, with a basement full of cat-skeletons and sentimental collection edition cotton-candy wrappers. Terrifying clutter. Nobody can live like that, keeping old crap around when we have been given a newer better gift.

What is true about cds and ponies is also true about the gospel.

When Jesus comes down and lives his life for us, he gives us something new, something better. He comes before us and offers his hand to take the weight of guilt and price of our shame. In theological terms, he fulfills the law on our behalf.

You see, the purpose of the law was never to make us right with God. In fact, it was only there as an incredibly gracious gift to show us how desperately we need him.

We are born with the feeling and instinct that a lot of stuff we do is wrong. We hate. We lie. We cheat. We steal. We play with mudpies in the sand while turning up our noses at the offer of a holiday at sea. The news that we are in the wrong is no new news. As much as we try to drown out the voices deep down, we cannot deny that they are right. We are in the wrong.

What the law does is to put it in concrete, understandable terms. That hatred we feel and act on, well that is called murder and God is against that. That desire we feel for somebody else’s Mercedes and wife, well that is called coveting and God is against that. That deep-seated aversion to the truth is called lying and God is also against that. The law, it seems, never was the problem.

On the other hand, it was never the solution.

The idea was to put all of our spiritual need into concrete, understandable terms. With a  bit of searching every single one of us can find specific areas where we consistently fall short of God’s commands.

Now, you have one of two choices. You can either trust Jesus when he says he came to fulfill the law in every aspect or you can trust yourself to make up for lost ground. Any of us who have tried the second choice know just how futile and disheartening it is to keep trying and failing over and over and over again.

Our quest is not to keep the law but to trust the One who did keep the law for us. Jesus has made the law obsolete. It is outdated and serves only as a tool to show us in concrete terms just how much we need to trust him.

You know, at the end of the book, the little boy comes to a tight spot with Big Red. They are in a mine shaft or something like that and all seems hopeless until, out of nowhere, Little Black the pony gallops over to save the day. I used to love this part, when I was a kid. Now I kind of hate it. Little Black had his time, you see? He is now obsolete. The boy no longer needed to trust a pony who had already served his purpose, but when he is in a pinch, he goes right back to the old pony for help.

It is like people who still use cd players. No offense, but it makes absolutely no sense anymore. The old things are done away with and the new has come. No need for Little Black, the pony, or those silly old cd players.

And no need to look for the law when we are in a pinch. The old things are done away with. The new has come. Sometimes it will seem like our relationship with the Lord is not enough, we need to go back to our old ways and/or shape-up.

 

When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

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