I’m not one who speaks up much in groups, I never have been. When thoughts and topics bounce around, there isn’t the time and space to process and weigh what’s been said and I often find my brain has taken me off the path of the group anyway.
Tonight, was another one of those situations where I found my brain taking a more serendipitous route so I sat and listened . . . until my husband challenged me to get my thoughts out in text and who can resist a free pass to write?
Tonight, our group was looking at the role of the law laid out in the Old Testament. Needless to say, this is often a topic that brings out opinions. I remember, before college, finding the topic utterly boring. Mainly because I (a) found it confusing and (b) came from a New Testament focused tradition.
Then came college and two professors in particular who wanted their students to catch the beauty, the intentionality, and the interconnected nature present within the greater story.
I was introduced to narrative and suddenly things made more sense. It shouldn’t surprise me, I’ve had my nose stuck in a book before I could read. I love finding people’s hearts and stories. History was my nemesis because I could never remember dates but give me the stories.
When these professors took the Bible and reconnected it into one great meta-narrative rather than the bits and pieces I had previously been shown all of a sudden the law took on purpose (other than the insomnia cure I had treated it as in high school).
Under the narrative the law enters the picture as hope.
The narrative has not been overly hopeful until this point.
Creation has fallen and fallen again necessitating a restart within the events of the flood. The people of promise have been enslaved and their children culled.
The law enters into this narrative as hope.
The people have been rescued, their rescue isn’t reliant on following the law, it’s already happened- the law speaks to grace and the promise of right relationship with the God who must have felt distant during those long years in Egypt.
But we are creatures of habit and the people fall again, and again.
The narrative continues and things are bleak.
The hope of the law becomes twisted into a lifeline that people cling too and expand beyond it’s original structures, working for their salvation through strict obedience to a system that is impossible to fulfill on one’s own.
Now the hope of the law becomes a beacon pointing to the need for grace and salvation, the sacrificial system points to the need for a better sacrifice that will heal the wound rather than merely replacing the band-aids temple sacrifice were providing.
Then comes the climax – Jesus.
He didn’t come to abolish but to fulfill because he is the sacrifice that heals, the hope that brings the grace and mercy as he restores right relationship. He can’t abolish the law because he embodies it. But without the Old Testament, without the understanding of Creation’s brokenness, the law’s role, the prophets calls, and the years of silence that preceded Christ’s arrival, we cheapen the story of the cross by removing it from it’s climactic role.
And what a cool climax. Honestly, I love this because in movies you get the climax and then an ending (maybe some after credit scenes if you’re into Marvel). Here, the climax continues to crescendo and build because there’s still another chapter coming. The story’s still building.
Narrative allows the different genres and stories to take their place in relationship increasing their depth, their breadth, and their impact.
Law on it’s own still is a hard read to slog through (sorry professors!) but in their context within the larger narrative the law takes on a living, breathing role.