The Chair and the Desk, 3/14/16

From the chair:

“For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.”

-Romans 4:13-15

Sometimes my mind suggest things that, in hindsight, are simply laughable. I read the last phrase here, “where there is no law there is no transgression,” and for a moment thought, are people better off not hearing about this God? That doesn’t seem right. As I considered this for a bit, I realized that I was falling into the trap of thinking innocence and guilt are all that the law, the gospel, and life come down to. They’re not.

Sharks live a life of no law and no transgression. No one ever told them not to kill, and they have no guilt to be forgiven for, and they go on living their killing lives. They’re not cut off from God by their sin; neither are they living in the fulness of joy. They just swim fast, eat fish, make more sharks, and eventually die.

The law is more than not sin, the gospel is more than not guilt, and life is more than not condemnation. They are all gifts from God to help us know and enjoy God. The law not only teaches us a better ethic, it envisions a better society. The gospel not only offers forgiveness for failing to live up to the law, it also announces the Spirit who can help us walk in it. Life is not just for getting by, it is for getting right with God, who fulfills and surpasses all we’ve ever looked for in parents, leaders, rulers, and friends.

From the desk:

Articulate speech is thus the highest mode in which man eliminates from himself his internal sensations. It is, therefore, with good reason that on the occasion of someone’s death funeral hymns are sung and condolences conveyed; and even though occasionally these may seem or be burdensome, yet they have the advantage, that by the repeated talk about the loss that has occurred they lift the grief over it out of its cramped lodging in the heart into representation and so make it into an object, into something confronting the grief-stricken subject.”

-Hegel, The Philosophy of Mind (Oxford: Clarendon, 2007), p.83

It appears Hegel actually knew a thing or two about grief. When we speak or sing or write our feelings–in our words or even in others’ words–it helps us make the feelings “into an object,” something no longer controlling us, inescapably, from within, but rather something we can name and consider and talk about. We still feel them–pain or frustration or whatever it may be–but we gain some control over those feelings to counter the absolute control they could have over us.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.


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