I want, therefore I am

“Education is what remains when you have forgotten everything you learnt at school.” These words of Einstein can help us understand what Jesus meant when he said, “I have come not to abolish the law and the prophets but to complete them” (Matt 5:17). Paul likened the law to the task of the slave in the ancient world who conducted a child to his teacher (Gal 3:24). Once they arrived the slave’s job was done. So it was with the law. The purpose of law was to lead us t

The law said, “You must not kill.” And every society punishes those who kill. But what about those who “kill” by destroying the lives of others? It can start in a family where frustrated parents can transfer their anger to their children and be so cruel to them that the children run away and live on the streets. To such people Jesus says not just, “you must not kill” but “you must not even get angry.” Don’t even begin the journey that may end in violence. Look at your anger when it arises and see where it is leading.

There are two types of anger: one is creative and can shock a person into changing his or her ways. Jesus himself got angry and parents, teachers and those in charge often get angry with good results. But there is another form of anger which is destructive, vengeful and violent. Jesus asks us to jump on that as soon as it rears its head. We are called to an inner discipline that constantly examines our emotions to see where they are leading.

And so Jesus goes on to other things: sex, for instance. Adultery is a fairly blatant act which can be quite destructive. But that is way down the road that began when my emotions were aroused, like seeing Bathsheba bathing, which turned David’s eye (2 Sam 11). When I was learning Shona in Buhera I unexpectedly saw some ladies bathing in the Merahari River. Fortunately I have poor eyesight. There is nothing unusual in emotions being aroused. It is what I do next that matters.

So we have to see that the “completion” of the law involves so interiorising the way of Jesus that we do not need the law anymore. This is easy to say but it goes against a culture which constantly shouts at us about instantly satisfying our feelings. I want, therefore I am. My identity is wrapped up in getting what I want. The consumer age! All of this is challenged by the “education” Jesus offers.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis
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