Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.’ –Matthew 5.17
Another word for fulfill, is to bring to completion or even better, fruition.
Like all living systems, growth and evolution includes the prior and also transcends it. Eighth grade includes 7th, 6th, 5th, etc., and also transcends them. The former preceded but do not limit the latter. Such graceful growth fosters continuity and novelty. A creative unfolding grounded in reality and moving toward possibility.
The law without its evolution and fruition becomes a kind of tyranny. We can see this in more fundamentalist expressions of religious faith and community. Such law-based tyranny to the self and to the community runs on fear.
In contrast, Jesus’ teaching (such as in Matthew 5 – 7) reveals that the evolution and fruition of the law is love. Jesus shows us the template of what the law evolved into love looks like: oneness with Abba and all of creation, and from this unshakable unitive awareness, the possibility of fearlessness in the face of suffering, false accusations, hatred and even death.
One takeaway for our human day to day experience and spiritual journey, particularly in relationship with others, is to stay open to the unexpected grace of your growth and evolution. The law of right and wrong and moral certainty might keep you feeling safe, or feeling in control of your life, as if you know exactly what it means to be “in charge of your self and destiny,” but the law and all its implied observances cannot complete you on its own. For that completion and fruition, the law and all our religious practice must yield to another way of being: the way of being of self-surrender. The way of love, which completes and transcends all laws.
Thus any law and any religious expression that does not tend us toward love is incomplete, and perhaps even immature – that is to say, still in process of becoming more complete.
By way of example, the law does not really know how to process the reality of forgiveness and what “punishment” might mean when real, deep and freeing forgiveness enters the room. Same with mercy. How does mercy change the law and its application? And most profoundly, what does the law make of the kind of love that leads an innocent man to offer himself on behalf of others – to be the scapegoat – out of self-surrender? These, among others, are evolved dynamics that complete and transcend our ordinary human understanding of the Law.
While the law is of vital practical importance for human community, the law is meant to evolve us into love. The fruition of the law is when we become love.
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