Whatever makes us belong to one another, whatever binds us so tightly that one of us can’t be hurt without all of us crying out, that is the only law that matters.
In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. – Romans 7:4 (NRSV)
Among the effects that 2020 is having on the world is this: many of us are discovering that we’re all better off if we die to some of the laws we used to follow.
The laws that govern polite conversation can prevent us from talking about what truly matters, from having life or death conversations.
The laws that protect social, even familial, connections can keep us in relationships that are death-dealing.
The laws that shape the participation of “good citizens” in civil society can wind up protecting the worst parts of that society.
We’ve been following these laws, maybe intentionally, maybe without thinking, for so long … and then suddenly we realize: being law-abiding isn’t working any more, if it ever did.
Who do these laws benefit, we wonder. Who do they hurt? What exactly are they protecting? Why?
And who wrote them, anyway? What were their reasons – their real reasons, not just their stated ones? Do I want to live in the kind of society they were trying to build?
Once we’ve died to a law, what then? Shall we be lawless?
Paul’s answer: whatever makes us belong to one another, whatever binds us so tightly that one of us can’t be hurt without all of us crying out, whatever makes each person as exalted as a literal part of the risen Christ’s body, that is the only law that matters.
Holy one, when love is the law, let me abide by it. When it’s not, give me strength to be an outlaw. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.