Wednesday, February 20, 2008

To Love the Law

A young pastor once was troubled by a teenager asking if the law of the Sabbath were still binding in modern Christian times. What pastor has not dealt with similar queries? We are no longer under law, right? Isn’t that why Jesus died?

The young pastor mentioned the teenager in a letter to his mentor, the poet William Cowper. Cowper suggested, “I would ask my catechumen one short question− ‘Do you love the day, or do you not? If you love it, you will never inquire how far you may safely deprive yourself of the enjoyment of it.’”

How would our catechumens fare in such a test? How would we? Do we love the Sabbath? Do we love God’s law in general? Do David’s psalms in praise of the law give vent to the overflowing thoughts of our hearts?

Or is it idolatrous to worship the law? Doesn’t all of our worship belong to God alone? Did David gush so just because it was the best he knew? He didn’t know about Jesus after all, right?

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer points out though:

All prayers of the Bible are such prayers which we pray together with Jesus Christ, in which he accompanies us, and through which he brings us into the presence of God.
If we want to read and pray the prayers of the Bible and especially the Psalms, therefore, we must not ask first what they have to do with us, but what they have to do with Jesus Christ.

In the Psalms we get to eavesdrop on Jesus’ prayers to his Father. And so many of the Psalms are nothing short of law worship. If Jesus is praying in the Psalms, is he an idolater? What is this law that God himself sings its praises?

[1] William Cowper, Letters of William Cowper (London: Religious Tract Society, 1870), p. 116.
[2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1974), p. 14.

No comments: