There are endless “what statements” that can be made about us and what we should do and not do. Smoke screen. The one statement that matters is, “And I say you are ….” God is not primarily interested in our morality. He is primarily interested in our identity. Morality follows. “What” statements are often mistaken for “who” statements and cause us to lead lives of “noisy desperation.”
The law of the Lord is Who God is. It is a character sketch of His identity. In Christ, it is the character sketch of you and me. Out of Christ, it is a list of “do’s and don’ts” that frustrate and condemn us over and over.
The law of the Lord. Is it about identity and what identity proclaims? It is difficult to think of the law that way. Perhaps that says something about how deeply rooted our misconception and misappropriation of the law of the Lord really is.
The interplay between identity and law in the gospel of St. John speaks volumes in this regard. Here is another example of the identity (who) and doing (what) interplay:
1The heavens declare the glory of God, *
and the firmament shows his handiwork.
2One day tells its tale to another, *
and one night imparts knowledge to another.
3Although they have no words or language, *
and their voices are not heard,
4Their sound has gone out into all lands, *
and their message to the ends of the world.
5In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun; *
it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
it rejoices like a champion to run its course.
6It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens
and runs about to the end of it again; *
nothing is hidden from its burning heat.
7The law of the LORD is perfect
and revives the soul; *
the testimony of the LORD is sure
and gives wisdom to the innocent.
8The statutes of the LORD are just
and rejoice the heart; *
the commandment of the LORD is clear
and gives light to the eyes.
9The fear of the LORD is clean
and endures for ever; *
the judgments of the LORD are true
and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold,
more than much fine gold, *
sweeter far than honey,
than honey in the comb.
11By them also is your servant enlightened, *
and in keeping them there is great reward.
12Who can tell how often he offends? *
cleanse me from my secret faults.
13Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;
let them not get dominion over me; *
then shall I be whole and sound,
and innocent of a great offense.
14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my
heart be acceptable in your sight, *
O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.