Thursday, December 28, 2006

Zoom in, zoom out


My parents bought me a new digital camera for Christmas. Being the techno-not-savvy person that I am, I tried to upload my pictures into Facebook but was rejected several times. Not one to take rejection lying down, I fiddled with the USB thingy (I've only just upgraded the word USB to everyday vocabulary less than a month ago - I personally like discs and old fashion A-drives), clicked and reclicked edit photos, plugged and unplugged the cable from my camera, scrolled up and down the menu bar looking for something that would give me a hint... but nothing. Frustrated, I rang Eing, who then asked, "Have you installed the software yet?"

There's software?

So I dug out the CD from a pile of what I considered to be 'junk' in the box the shop people gave me and followed the instructions. It all seemed to flow quite well until I got kind of stuck at the legal jargon. As an undergraduate I would have skimmed them over and assuming I did better than everyone else who probably ignored it, would click 'next' or 'agree' without a moment's hesitation. Now, I actually read it and make mental notes of what I'm allowed and not allowed to do! How frustrating when the rest of the world doesn't feel bound by it! the strange thing is that if I had studied something else, let's say Philosophy or English, I would not have felt it as necessary to comply with the law as I do. The other day, I was in a hurry to go out. I left my apartment, took the lift all the way down, walked for a bit, realised I didn't have my ID with me (in Malaysia it's compulsory to carry ID) and debated for a second before deciding getting caught wasn't worth it especially if I were going to be a practising lawyer in Malaysia. I wouldn't want a black mark for something petty like that. So retraced my steps all the way back. Was SO annoyed but infinitely relieved that I was now without blame. The law certainly makes one a prisoner and even more so when one knows the law. If one claims ignorance, one is still under the law so breaking the law will still amount to punishment. However, the 'trick' is when the sentence is passed. Without mens reas (intention), the lesser punishment can be argued for and is usually given. Exceptions would include strict liability offences which mean the tariff is set for the punishment and it doesn't matter whether you intended to break the law or not.

I think when people think of God as a judge, if they do ever think of Him as a judge, they would more often than not see their offence against Him as one of Intention rather than one of Strict Liability.

"I didn't mean to hurt so-and-so with that rumour"
"I took that piece of bread because I was hungry and that person had more than enough to share. In fact, why not punish him for not sharing with the needy and selfishly keeping everything to himself??"
"It wasn't my fault. He started it."
"It was only a little, white lie"
"That man drove a lorry over my son on purpose. He deserved to die!"
"Everyone else does it too"
"It was only something I thought about. I wasn't going to do anything about it."

We all come to God with our excuses, treating Him as everything and everyone... except God. We whine the way a child tries to dissuade punishment from a parent. We stare sullenly like the time we got caught by school authorities. We pull out the same legalistic excuses we used when approached by the clergy. We bat the blame back and forth like the time owning up risked confrontation. We knit and sew rags of self-justification for ourselves to hide the knowledge that we are in the wrong afterall. We point in the other direction to the traffic cop. We want to stand out and be individuals yet when it comes to taking responsibility we shy away and try to remain unseen from an All-knowing, All-seeing God.

Like most of my blog entries, this started out as a frivolous dig at myself and at life's curveballs. I never thought that studying Law would actually impact me so much. I guess I took in more in class than I thought I did :) In studying Law however, I am pointed towards a Law on a grander, infinite, complete scale; a Law that no man can ever hope to attain. A Law that shows us up for who we are; in the light of such a Law, our ambitions become hubris, our loves becomes hate, our passion becomes destruction, our hope to fulfill the Law becomes a joke. Such is the situation of all man without Jesus. Such is the emptiness and hollowness of life without the One who created life and sustains it. The Law God gave Moses wasn't bad law of blessings and curses that Jesus came down to earth to destroy or overturn. It was God's perfect standard which, man on his own could never fulfill and so could never hope to reconcile himself to God. Jesus didn't come down to earth to destroy the contents of the Law, He came to fulfil the purpose of the Law. The Law revealed man's sinfulness because man could never keep God's perfect commandments. Man could never keep God's commandments because man's heart was calloused and naturally disobedient. When Jesus bridged that gap through His death on the cross, it wasn't that all of a sudden we didn't need to abide by the Law anymore and could go round stealing and harming people as long as we believed in Jesus' atonement for our sins. His death did not destroy the Law in that sense. Rather, He has done for us, what we could not do on our own; Jesus Christ brought us into a relationship with God. As a result, we can have an eternal relationship with God and can obey the Law as free men. When we do fail to obey the Law, our access to God is still wide open because access to God no longer lies in fulfilling the whole Law on our own but through Jesus, who has bridged the gap once for all forever. As a result, we are no longer bound by the Law but we are bound by whether or not we trust in Jesus as our Saviour, Redeemer, Christ and Lord. How wonderful it is not to be burdened by the yoke of law. I was burdened over something as small as not bringing my IC/ ID out. How much more would my burden be if I knew I had the whole of God's perfect law to follow every moment in order to have a relationship with Him. The pharisees must have been an awfully burdened lot to be carrying such a load on their shoulders! Their biggest mistake was not recognising the person who came to take their burden. Do not Jesus' words make so much sense now when He said in Matthew 11: 29-30:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Of course! If Jesus were the fulfillment of the covenant (and He is), His burden would be light because He already had and has an eternally perfect relationship with God the Father and so can bring us into a relationship with God.

My thoughts tend to trail... and my blogs are usually a result of things I have been chewing over or mulling, wallowing, burrowing in. I have to say it has become increasingly ploughed and less 'fun' to read but hopefully when I read back my blogs, I can look upon my present with hindsight and learn from the past.

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