revolution |ˌrevəˈloō sh ən|
1 a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.
• a dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way something works or is organized or in people’s ideas about it : marketing underwent a revolution.
2 an instance of revolving : one revolution a second.
• motion in orbit or a circular course or around an axis or center.
• the single completion of an orbit or rotation.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French, or from late Latin revolutio(n-), from revolvere ‘roll back’.
In the truest sense of the word, a revolution is not an innovation, the creation of something new, but rather a “rolling back.” The revolutions of the 18th century (American and French most notably) were the result of Enlightenment thinking’s desire to return to the heights of Roman Republic, the golden ideal of equality and human dignity. Revolutionary heroes such as George Washington were cast in the mold of Republic heroes such as Cincinnatus. In the revolutionary minds, the hope was to return things to what natural law demanded; man ruling himself, in community with each other.
For there to be a Grace Revolution, as the title of these posts demands, there must be a return to what grace was meant to be. As I posted a few weeks ago, grace is the gift of relationship. It is a return to the Garden Reality, where God and Humanity enjoy unhindered community. That model of grace is embedded throughout the Old Testament, revealing itself in every aspect of Hebrew history.
It is under this premise of a revolution being a “rolling back,” that Christ’s words in Matthew 5.17-20 come into play.
(Bloggers Note: At this point I want to state that the worst grade I ever received in college was for my final Hermeneutics paper that covered this exact passage. In light of that revelation, feel free to ignore anything you are about to read. – Brian)
Mt. 5.17-20 (ESV)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
The more I read this, the more I become convinced that Christ’s journey is not a “new” plan, but instead a return to the original. Jesus did not come to get rid of the Law and to create a new strategy, but rather to remind us of what the plan was and to get rid of all the things we add to grace.
The Law and the Prophets (a euphemism for the Old Testament) served to bring humanity into relationship with God, albeit in a limited and finite capacity. The work of Christ in Heaven and on Earth served to bring fulfillment, which is not necessarily the same thing as an end. The grammatical construct here could be used to imply an historic event with ongoing effects. Christ’s sacrifice perpetually fulfills the need of punishment for sin, thereby allowing us enduring access to the grace of relationship. The Law and the Prophets existed as Divine constructs and as such did not need to be destroyed. What needed to be destroyed was what we made.
Humanity tends to complicate the simple. God’s simple plan exists in two commands; love God, and love each other. We in turn create a labyrinth of do’s and don’ts, of expectations and demands, hat give us mastery over God’s plan. Instead of focusing on being, we focus on doing. Christ came to destroy that. “The righteousness of the Pharisees” was code morality, an ethic of doing the right thing, with little regard for being. Pay attention to the one rejected from the Kingdom, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”
So Jesus started a revolution, a rolling back towards simple grace. Love God, love each other, and find hope. Viva La Revolución!