Law and Grace

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)

This morning I had to make my annual trip to the Kootenai County courthouse to drop off a guardianship report for Aaron.

And, as always, I’m always struck by the sights and sounds I encounter.

For starters, it all began with going through the metal detector, reminding me that such a facility can be a place of anger and frustration. So, to protect against any violence, each person must be screened to ensure no weapons enter the building.

As I walked through the main hallway, I passed groups of people, mainly attorneys getting their clients ready for court. The docket must have been full, because the hall was quite crowded. I imagine the judges would soon be hearing about cases dealing with everything from theft, assault, drug possession, etc.

Downstairs at the civil court counter, I waited in a long line. At the counter, two men were separately dealing with some domestic issues with the clerks. One was looking to serve a summons on an ex-spouse, the other, new to divorce, was fresh to the world of family law. He had a lot of questions about his rights.

Truth be told, a court house can be a bit depressing. Humanity often seems all-to-adept at violating and hurting one another. We have a bent toward lawbreaking (even if its just the seemingly small, insignificant laws).

And because justice must be served, the court system exists. And day after day, year after year, cases are presented and dealt with.

But as I surveyed all the machinations of the law taking place, something caught my as I waited to take my turn at the counter.

Christmas decorations.

Lights, garland and wreaths.

Which all speak to the wonderful reality of grace.

So, at the same time people were dealing with the heavy law issues, lights continually twinkled.

A reminder that God’s mercy is celebrated at Christmas.

The truth is our sins are deserving of punishment. Justice must always be served.

We may be able to resolve a court case by paying a fine or serving a sentence.

But our sin separates us from God, and as Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”

On top of that, Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death! That’s the sentence sin serves us.

But Christmas is the reminder that God sent His Son, Jesus, to be born, live a perfect life, and die in our place, so that we might not be found guilty of sin, but rather justified in Christ.

And God does this as an act of grace and mercy. He gives us what we don’t deserve. It is truly a grace gift.

A courthouse can seem like a hopeless place of heavy burdens and rigid justice.

But because of a small display of Christmas decorations, I was reminded that God’s grace overcomes the weight of the law, and His mercy triumphs over sin’s sentence of death.

How good and wise it is to cling to these words of Jesus, not just at Christmas time, but all year long: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

For in Him we can be justified of our sin, and completely freed from it’s penalty.


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