I was on a break during class when I saw a classmate, Sarah Wilson, looking at her smartphone. I jokingly said to her, how can you be looking at your phone when it’s beautiful out today. Her response was simple and ultimately struck me as very profound with regard to its spiritual implications. She replied, “I don’t have to look at the sun to feel it.” Now at first hearing these words you may be wondering what the big deal is. So let me put the moment surrounding this statement in context.
First of all our break was in the middle of a class on St. Paul. We were talking about his theology and the implications of his seemingly sudden conversion from a Pharisee and persecutor of the new Messianic Jews who believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah to a chief apostle and deliverer of the gospel to the non-Jewish world (Gentiles). One of the main characteristics of Paul’s message was that the “Law” did not save. He taught that there were Gentiles who, although they did not have the Jewish law were a law unto themselves as seen below:
New King James Version (NKJV)
12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
Having just read over these verses prior to Sarah’s statement, I was immediately struck by the correlation. In Paul’s time, the Jewish believers of Christ’s message, felt that by keeping the law they were in a superior position to the new believers who had received the Word outside of the Jewish traditional context. By making this assertion, Paul was not trying to condemn the law, since he was a Jew and kept the law with the best of them. Rather, he was pointing out the higher law that is written not on scrolls or books, but that which is written in our hearts–the Law of Love. This is made clear in another teaching of his.
New King James Version (NKJV)
Love Your Neighbor
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,”“You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Considering Sarah’s words, “I don’t need to look at the sun to feel it”, in this context made me think about those of us who think that we are superior to others because of how religious we appear to be. Many of us call ourselves trying to save others when the fact is we are not capable of such a feat. All we can do and all we owe to others is to love them. They aren’t necessarily going to be any better off by doing what we do. And who is to say that they are not better off than we are when it comes to their relationship to God? My spirit translated my classmates words to, “I don’t need to look at the Son to feel God’s Love.” From there I thought about those of us who quite literally look at sun and don’t feel it. Perhaps we are looking out of the window of a comfortable building, but don’t go outside. Then I thought about those of us who look at the Son and yet don’t feel God’s Love. Perhaps we are hiding in the church and looking at Jesus’ work on the cross as a reason to not do our own spiritual work to know who we are in God.
How would you feel if you discovered that some of those people outside of the church who live by the law of Love are better followers of Christ than those inside the walls? In explaining the new covenant the writer of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 with these words attributed to God:
I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t get all of this and I know the Bible can be used in a lot of ways to support many points of view, but at the end of the day Jesus’ good news was that we are all infinitely Loved by our Creator and to please God it is as simple as loving God and our neighbor as ourselves. That says to me that if you are doing that or working toward that then you are following Christ whether you know it or not. If this doesn’t make sense to you, then consider someone who is physically blind and then think of Sarah’s statement. They will never “look” at the sun, but because they can feel it, they can know its warmth, they can face it, and they can even go toward it. They can say to you, “I can’t tell you what it looks like, but I know it is there” or “I don’t know where I am, but I know where the sun is, because I can feel it.” Now translate that in your spirit and think about those who can say the same thing about the Son and ask yourself if you can truly feel it too? If so, then share the warmth in Love.