‘The edges of his ways’: this phrase – the title of a devotional book by Amy Carmichael, drawn from the book of Job – captures well the way Jesus always viewed Old Testament Law. He consistently calls us back to the central heart & purpose of the commandments; the spirit of the law. The ‘Pharisees disease’ (which can infect us all) obsesses about the letter of the law, and ends up straining out gnats while swallowing camels (Mt 23:24).
The crash barriers on a motorway are there for a good reason, but we are fools if we imagine that the purpose of driving is to constantly see how close we can get. Or how hard we can hit them before we completely crash.
I want to swim in the fierce, central current of God’s heart, not bumping along the bank, stuck in eddies at the edge, drifting around in circles. God has better things for us; a higher calling, a more significant vocation.
As Sarah taught recently, Jesus wants to talk about the covenant commitment of marriage; we settle for a debate about divorce.
He wants to talk about sacrificial love; we want to discuss our supposed ‘rights’.
He wants to lead us into the freedom that grows out of forgiveness; we ask how many times we are obliged to forgive.
The challenge we face is much more than simply avoiding sin (though not less). It is embracing, embodying and growing up into the new life into which we have been birthed. This life to which he calls us is not a narrow, constricted thing; it is a vast, expansive space, full of potential and full of delight. Too often I spend my days on the margins, checking where the fences have been set.
But I want to echo the Narnian cry: “Further up and further in.”
Jesus: captivate my shrunken imagination; enlarge my impoverished perspective.