The Way Water Flows

I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth shall gain blessing for themselves through your offspring, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Genesis 26:4-5 

For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

Matthew 5:18 

Dear members and friends, 

When we see the word “law” in the Bible, the first thing we might think of is the Ten Commandments followed by the rules and regulations that we find in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. However, thinking of the Bible – the message from the Creator given to human beings – as a rulebook for the functionality of a human community is a bit of a shallow interpretation. What is even further away is the belief that not obeying one or two of those rules could result in eternal damnation in hell. The Hebrew word that is translated as “law” is torah, which means “direction, instruction, or law.” The root origin of torah is yarah, meaning “to throw or shoot.” Linguistically, torah could mean the direction or instruction that God has provided humans to pursue the proper way of living. What the Creator in the Bible might have intended to teach with the concept of law is the truth that there is a proper way of being and living as humans because they are made in the image and likeness of the Creator. 

In Chinese, the word for law is the combination of two words, water and go, meaning the way water goes. Thus, as water flows in nature, so too does law define the proper way of being and living. Therefore, the ancient Daoists believed that there should be the law of heaven, the law of earth, and the law of humans. Each law defined the most proper way of being for its own nature and enabled them to exist in harmony with each other. Lao-zi emphasizes the way of water or the way water goes as the highest virtue to be found in nature. According to Lao-zi, water demonstrates three virtues that humans could learn and cultivate: 1. Water always flows from a higher place to a lower place, which is humility; 2. Water does not insist on its own way or even its own form, which is flexibility; 3. Water nurtures all living beings in its way, which is life-giving nurture. We could see that the ancient people saw the law not as restrictions or judicial guidelines for punishing each other, but as instructions to behave and live properly as humans.  

My brothers and sisters in God, let us take a moment of reflection today to meditate upon what might be the most proper way of being a human; one who is made in the image and likeness of the Creator. Let us internally acknowledge the inner depth of our being and its value.    

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee