Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Christ's Unified Law of Human Morality

I find theoretical physics both fascinating and light years beyond my comprehension.

I'm a business guy, but every once in a while I'll dive into the rabbit hole of Wikipedia articles and NOVA videos about those theories which attempt to explain natural phenomena. As a result, I've learned just a few basics about some prominent theories and one of them reminds me of something Jesus said.

The Laws of Physics
Einstein's famous theory of relativity (E=mc^2) was a major breakthrough in theoretical physics, opening the door to lots of new theories about how the universe works. It basically defines the relationship between energy and mass. That's apparently a huge deal because energy and mass had previously been understood only in the context of their own separate laws. What Einstein did was make sense of energy in relation to the physical world. Now, we don't need two separate theories about matter and energy. Einstein gave us one theory to include both.

In that same vein, the next major pursuit for theoretical physics is called a 'unified theory.' Basically, we're looking for a theory that puts all the remaining separate physical principles together in a way that makes sense. For example, right now, the physical laws we've identified for super-microscopic matter (like sub-atomic particles) are different from the physical laws that govern massive celestial bodies (like planets and galaxies). There's a whole big messy pile of laws that govern various elements of nature. We need a theory in physics that defines how all matter behaves, regardless of scale.

The Laws of God
When God first identified Abram's faithfulness and claimed for himself a nation of people through his descendants, God provided for them a set of laws to follow that would help preserve and improve their lives, both at an individual level and a national, societal level. It was by this set of laws that the Israelites (eventually identified as Jews) abided for thousands of years (to varying degrees of success).

When Jesus arrived on the scene as the Son of God, he provided clarity and purpose for the Jews regarding that big, seemingly complex pile of laws. Now, this didn't go over so well with the Jewish religious leaders of that time, because they had made a life's work out of memorizing, interpreting and enforcing those laws, making the pile messier and uglier than God had ever intended. Needless to say, they were hesitant to accept Jesus words of clarity and authority on the subject.

Attempting to trip Jesus up, they asked him what was, in their minds, a trick question. They said, "which law is the greatest law?" Expecting him to be stumped, they were surprised when Jesus revealed his stunningly simple and true answer -- what I like to call the Law of Human Morality. He said, "The greatest law is this: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind,' and the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the law and all the prophets are fulfilled in these."

His critics were silenced.

Genius and Elegance
In the world of theoretical physics, one general measure of a theory's value is referred to as 'elegance.' Basically, the more simple, intuitive, and inclusive the theory, the more valid, useful, and likely to be true it is.

Christ unified what people had previously perceived as a big, messy, splintered, unrelated pile of laws into one beautiful, elegant, simple law: love the Lord and love your neighbor. Every law and prophetic truth that has ever been spoken or written are congruent with this.

We often feel overwhelmed by a barrage of do's and don'ts when it comes to living a good life, or pleasing the Lord with our behavior. We often try to compile rule books for ourselves; lists of things we know are okay or aren't; things we can feel either good or guilty about with certainty. Jesus took all of that anxiety away. Christ's unified Law of Human Morality makes all those lists obsolete. Anything you think, say or do can be measured against this one beautifully elegant plumb-line for human behavior, and you can know in your heart whether or not you're on the right track.

He said that he came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it -- which is exactly what he did.