Crossing The Border
Part of being Canadian is crossing the border. Living on the north side of the border with the US means that we are always aware of the crossing whether at the airport or on a deserted stretch of highway.
The law of God is like the Canada/US boundary. It might invisible across water, forest and prairie, but the law of God, like the unseen boundary is still there. And it requires a legal crossing to pass over it.
In the Garden of Eden, the border was crossed illegally. Adam introduced all of his kin to a new world of trouble, and as John Milton put it, “Brought Death into the World, and all our woe.” No three words in the universe are more tragic than these, “and he ate” (Gen 3:6).
Misery can come into your life by the simple act of crossing a border. Doing it legally or illegally can look very similar in the action, but vastly different in the consequence. Ask someone with an unplanned pregnancy or a DUI how simple it is to move from one side of a boundary to another-- and the consequences.
God revealed more and more of his law as time went on. He unfolded it as a good thing to keep our own miserable travels contained. The great revealing of it came after he delivered his chosen people Israel from Egypt. God prepared new boundaries that were physicaly unseen but verbally written in stone no less (Exodus 20:1-17). These Ten Commandments, (or Ten Words, Deut 4:13) are a border that reveals to us, as the catechism says, our “sins and misery.” The Law of God acts as the satellite image of North Korea in the dark, bounded by the brilliancy of light south of the border. The law shows us how lost and darkened we really are.
With the border illuminated and the crossing closed to us is there any way that we can merit a passport to acceptance with God? The passports offered by Muhammed, Joseph Smith, or Guru Nanak end up being counterfeits. None of them can meet the standards of holiness required by God’s bordering Law. As the nice young Mormon missionary said to me, “You just have to try.” Sorry pardner--- trying isn’t enough to cross the border and its pretty discouraging after a while.
Can we get a passport and fulfill the commandments that Jesus summarized? He said:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:36-38, cf. Deut 6:5, Lev 19:18).
Our answer to the crossing guard is basically, “No. I don’t have a passport.” Instead,we are “inclined by nature to hate God and my neighbour” (cf. Rom 3:10,23; 1 Jn 1:8,10; Gen 6:5; 8:21; Jer 17:9; Rom 7:23; 8:7; Eph 2:3; Tit 3:3).
So are we forever trapped in the land of darkness? This is where the Canadian border crossing analogy breaks down because we cross southward and after shopping in an American store we gladly break homeward again passing ‘the last American exit to the northland’ as the Hip used to sing. Rather, as nice as Canadians are supposed to be, we are all trapped within the borders of our darkened hearts, our transgressions against God’s law, and our finely concealed hatred of God and others. We need hope and a real passport.
The only hope is found in Jesus Christ, which you might expect. But why? Jesus said about God’s border, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). The Son of Man, Jesus Christ is the only one who could fulfill the terms required to cross the border. Only his righteousness imputed to us is a sufficient border crossing credential. Only Jesus could ‘fulfill the Law’. In fact, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 10:4).
So there is no crossing of God’s border by any fake papers we might print up for ourselves. No personal achievements, no “I gave at work”, no charity dinner, recycling program, yoga class graduation or “I’ve been a member since ‘92.” Only in Jesus Christ, who said, “not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42) can the border be crossed. He even received the punishment for our transgressions at the most important crossing marker of all, the Cross. In his resurrection, there is hope for a passport to life beyond the grave, because he was “pierced for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). If Jesus has done this for us, all we must do is respond to his call to travel, passport in hand, for he said simply, “Follow me.”
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