We have been reading a lot about fundamentalism of late. There is rhetoric abound about love vs. law. We tend to embrace the church of love and despise the church of law. Its just who we are. So, we are continually trying to reconcile our belief in the forces of love and our suspicion in the motives of law.
We went to Sabetha, Kansas a few weeks ago for my wife’s family reunion and her grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. We stayed at this “resort”, which was really an RV park with extra buildings. The park was comfortably removed from town, a relic of an age where the farms were populated and Sabetha was actually out in the middle of nowhere. There was a small church on the grounds, and on Sunday my wife’s uncle Johnny gave the sermon at that church. For his entire family.
He retired as a Presbyterian minister several years ago, and announced at the begining of his sermon that it was the first time that most of the family had heard him preach. He was, in fact, preaching to his father for the first time. Unfortunately, My son was tired and we left early to go take pictures of sunflowers, but my wife filled me in and we talked with the pastor about the sermon at lunch. He had an interesting perspective about the God of love and justice. He had his own struggle trying to find his place in manhood, spending most of his life mean and generally unbearable. These are the themes of the Bible, he suggests: love and justice.
We thought about it quite a bit, and we think that love is the characteristic that is usually attributed to women, and justice is a job for the men. Justice without love, however, is just wrath. It is punishment and retribution, but no healing, giving or nurturing. The two are actually inseparable, love and justice, and to truly mature is to find the balance between them. If we stick with the metaphor of God as the perfect father, then He must have the perfect harmony with love and justice that leaves people understanding that truth is real. and that every action that we take is paramount to reflecting Him.
So, we try to understand the value of justice motivated by love, how to provide it and how to receive it, and we try to lead our family down a path that seeks not only fulfillment, but maturity.