"The Law of God and the Law of Christ"
May 24, 2014
Texts: Matthew 19:16-22; John 13:34, 35; Galatians 6:1-5; Acts 17:31; John 5:30
The Ukraine is bleeding. The country is torn by conflict as pro-Russian groups seek to strengthen ties with the "mother country." Russia laid claim to the territory of Crimea and is working to secure Sevastopol. The United Nations General Assembly does not acknowledge Russia's takeover of Crimea and defines their referendum as invalid and illegal.1
The revolution that is tearing the country apart grows out of many years of corruption, mismanagement, and a lack of economic growth. Efforts to strengthen ties with the European Union were sought by government leaders to attract more capital and help the economy. When President Yanukovych decided to turn instead to building greater connections with Russia, it led to violent protests.
One of the greatest challenges in this topsy-turvy environment is trying to determine what the law is. Should the control of the Crimean Peninsula be acknowledged as part of the Russian Federation? More recently the Central Election Commission of Ukraine stated that because of illegal activities it cannot arrange for the preparation and conduct of elections in six of its constituencies.
Our Sabbath school lesson this week focuses on the Law of God and the Law of Christ. Like the split between the two ethnicities in the Ukraine, some people see a divide between God's law and what Jesus taught. A careless reading of the New Testament with a focus on phrases like "a new commandment" and "but I say to you" has led some to think Christ's law stands in contradiction to God's law.
But that couldn't be further from the truth. The Bible clearly states that Jesus did not come to "abolish the law or the prophets" (Matthew 5:17 NRSV). Further, when describing the overarching purpose of the law -which is to love God and others - Jesus emphasized that, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:40 NKJV). There was no split between God the Father and God the Son.
It brings sadness to think of our friends in the Ukraine living in such turmoil that there is confusion over the laws in their land. Who is the rightful leader and which laws should be followed? When it comes to the government of heaven, there is complete harmony. God's law and Christ's law stand as one.