The Fence or the Well


Where does a society place its boundaries, its fences, for right behavior? I wrote three blog posts five years ago on this subject, and it’s interesting to read them now. Do you think that the issues have changed? Have Christians changed their approach?

As a Christian, I believe God is the source and definition of righteousness and that his moral standards are available to us in the Bible. I also believe that the power to follow and obey God comes through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; the Gospel.

Translating that theological truth to our practical behavior is tricky. As a culture we decide what is acceptable (in bounds) and what is not (out of bounds), and there has been regular disagreement over where the boundaries should be set.

I once heard an analogy about a fence and a well. Imagine that our cultural field is surrounded by a fence representing the boundaries, and in its center exists a deep, life and truth giving well. This well is the life source for all of us, for we can’t survive without water from the well.

In theological terms the well is Jesus; the fence is the Law.

The longer I observe our fence placement arguments, the more I believe what I wrote in my third piece about cultural boundaries; Christians would be far better off staying close to Jesus rather than worrying about exactly where to install the fences.

If we camp at the feet of Jesus in humble recognition of our own sin and desperate need for a Savior, then we might be able to keep our eyes focused on Him and avoid stepping too far out of bounds. If, on the other hand, we insist on arguing about fence-post placement, then we will spend our time out by the edge, far away from the well, and we might lose track of our Savior. There is no power in the law. Jesus has all the power that we need.

The fence is always there, for there is a line between right and wrong, good and evil, sin and righteousness, and we have a reasonable idea where it is based on the Bible. Jesus said he did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. God’s moral standards stand.

Jesus Christ gives us the wisdom and power to know and to do what is right. If we stay close to the Well, we won’t have to worry about the boundaries.

Do you see cultural fights over where to place the fences? How are the issues today different from five years ago?

“For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4

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