I notice that there are two poles. Not North and South. Nor the poles of a magnet. I am thinking of these two poles: Law and Grace. I agree that we don’t use these words much. To put them another way, there is a camp of folks that believes people are basically flawed and we best have ways to keep them in line. There is another camp that thinks people are basically good and we should do everything in the world to let them be free to flourish. The former are afraid of freedom breaking out. The latter fear boundaries. Both poles live in neat, streamline worlds. Both poles have loud, angry-to-the-point-of-self-righteousness spokespersons. People send them lots of money. They are darlings of the media.
Either/Or – pick one!
Then, there are those in the middle. Those who often feel bad that they do not have the “backbone” to occupy one of the poles. Those who precariously straddle these two poles. Those who embrace a hopeless mish-mash of freedom and boundaries. Those who aren’t sure. Those who believe life is found in a messy tension of law and grace, freedom and boundaries. Those who have a devil of a time defending their feelings against a pole sitter. Those who react to good by giving too much freedom and react to bad by pressing down too hard. Those who change their mind a lot (Am I going crazy,) moving from pole to pole, even at the same instant. Those who “just don’t know.” Those who feel that they should be more focused, more sure.
I think God sits in this third category. I am sure this is heresy to say that God hasn’t got it all figured out. But that’s where I am. God seems to embrace both poles as she/he (can I buy a pronoun, Vanna?) deals with the people of Holy Scripture. On one page, God cries out, “Shape up or else!” On the next, “Okay, one MORE chance.” God is ALMIGHTY on one page and frail flesh on the next. The Kingdom is now but not yet. God forgives forever and maintains high expectations.
Life is messy and so are people. Three cheers for ambiguity! Go out and get mad about it and then embrace it. It’s the Godly thing to do.