Law vs. Love

Law vs. Love August 7, 2018


It’s a long story as to how I came to watch two episodes of The Waltons last night, but I did. I’ve never been much of a Walton watcher. As far as older shows go, I was always more of an Andy Griffith, Little House on The Prairie, and Bonanza type girl.

But anyway, first I watched an episode entitled “The Typewriter.” Thought it might have something to do with writing, and I was right. John Boy was trying to get his story published, and he needed a typewriter, as the publisher did not accept handwritten submissions. Mary Ellen ended up inadvertently selling the typewriter, which happened to be an ancient thing, worth a lot of money, and borrowed from a couple of old moonshinin’ ladies. Haha. As the story goes, Mary Ellen and John Boy had quite the spat over her being a dumb girl, but in the end, the typewriter was found, purchased, and Mary Ellen and John Boy made up like good Christian brother and sister.

Next episode was “The Sinner”, in which John Ritter played the part of a preacher just starting out in his ministry. There was to be some tent meetin’s in town, and he was to do the preachin’. I found it hilarious that John Ritter starred in such a role, given his other promiscuous roles in television. I mean, a lot of the episode was about sinners – whether everyone is one, and if so, why. And also what one’s responsibility is regarding their sinful state. However, the particular type of sin most talked in the episode was sexual sin, so I guess it was typical Ritter after all.

Ritter’s character advocated for taking cold showers and doing lots of calisthenics to combat “desires of young men” or whatever he called it, which I’m assuming was good, practical advice. But beyond that, he preached a mean Word of God, and I mean that in the true sense of the word. He was a jerk about sharing God’s Word, as was the lady who was with him, directing the tent meetin’ and watching Ritter with a stink eye the entire time to see if he was fit for ministry. Ritter’s character was all hellfire and brimstone, no grace and mercy.

In other words, all Law, no Love.

I understand. I grew up with that sort of nonsense, and if there’s one thing I know by living in an environment short of grace and mercy, it’s that it produces bitter children who struggle the rest of their lives to love a God who doesn’t love them (or so they feel), but only cares about whether they’ve hit the mark of perfection each day. Because if they have indeed failed, He is probably going to strike them dead – or at least make their lives miserable until they REPENT!!

But then Ritter’s character found himself in an interesting situation. Those moonshinin’ ladies who owned the typewriter were his distant kin. So, per his mother’s request, he stopped in to pay a visit. Well, during that visit, those ladies served him some elixir, and you can just imagine the ingredients. Ritter’s character ended up stumbling drunk and made a fool of himself in front of just about everyone to whom he’d preached “REPENT!”

Come time for the ten meetin’, Ritter’s character had been “fired” by the lady testing him out for future ministry. His chance for any kind of real ministry was over. Caput. In a matter of a few hours, his four years of Bible college was basically null and void.

Not only did he and that lady preach Law, they lived it. No grace. You screw up once, you’re ruined forever.

But John Walton stepped in, see, and he and Ritter’s character donned suit and tie and marched down to the tent meetin’ which was now being put on by Miss Testing Lady, preaching and all. When they walked into the tent all spiffied up, Miss Testing Lady stopped talking. Those sitting in the pews turned around to gawk.

John Walton apologized for the interruption, and though I think it was unplanned, he continued by saying he thought the hopeful minister, though he had made a terrible judgment call, had repented and deserved another chance.

“I think he has something to say, and I’d like to hear it”, John Walton announced.

So the hopeful minster stepped up to the pulpit, and rather sheepishly explained how he was a sinner, in need of forgiveness and mercy.

The preacher was humbled.

And in that newfound humility, he was able to express Love. Well, lo and behold, ears perked up. Those who were closed to him were now wide open receptacles, ready to be filled with truth.

I don’t agree with Walton theology. A lot of what was said in the episode about sin and what our response to it should be was unbiblical and therefore unsound. The only point I’m making is that until the preacher began to, in humility and love, offer the truth to people, the more closed off they were. Sinners, saved or unsaved, see right through pride. A mind and heart overly focused on the Law might accomplish the shock factor. It’s a fearful thing to know God has laid down the Law and proclaimed that all who break it will go to Hell. But that’s only half the story. Love in the form of Jesus’ birth, death, burial, and resurrection is the other half.

So, in what I hope is a sufficient amount of humility (but probably isn’t), I’m here to remind us that if we do not have love, we are nothing (I Cor. 13:2). That we can speak with tongues of men and angels, have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries and all knowledge, have faith enough to remove mountains, and yet if we don’t have love, we sound like clanging cymbals.

In other words, we annoy people. And they don’t want to hear us.

Do we never speak of the Law? Of course we do. It’s what convicts us we have failed, missed the mark, sinned. Jesus is offensive to those who are guilty, and perhaps we should expect some backlash, even if we are humble and loving in our approach. But my point is that we don’t park at the Law. We move on to Love, also known as the Gospel, which states that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

It’s a grave thing to sin. Eternally grave, if we do not turn to Christ. But that’s just the point: turn to Christ. He blots out sin with the shedding of His blood, if we but ask Him. As we tell that to others, we need to remember that beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things (Rom. 10: 15), pride goes before a fall (Prov. 16:18), and as the simpler saying goes …

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

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