Thursday, July 11, 2013
Bound by Love
Heb. 8:10 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Heb. 8:11 And they shall not teach one another
or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
Heb. 8:12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”
Heb. 8:13 In speaking of “a new covenant,” he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.
The old Covenant had been fading away because of the unfaithfulness of the people of God. God continued to reach out to his people but little by little through the years they stopped following the laws of God. Those that did follow the laws became hard and rigid in their faith. Remember the way the Scribes and the Pharisees would argue with Jesus? There was no love in their covenant relationship with God, but instead they were in love with their laws and rules and this made them hard and intolerant people.
Jesus came in the form of a man and the Covenant itself came to life expressed in the love of Christ for God and for humankind. This new Covenant had love at its very core, for pure unadulterated holy love is the very nature of God. Now the new Covenant, bound by love, would find itself within the very hearts and minds of God's people. Therefore there is no longer any need to teach the rules, for those come from the overflow of a life filled with Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. There is, however, a need to make introductions; to introduce Christ to those who do not know him so that they may participate in this new Covenant and experience the life bound by love.
It seems as if it is easy, at times, to slip into the life of rules and regulations. I think this happens when we fail to take the time to nurture our relationship with God in Christ. There are seasons in our spiritual lives and there may be dry periods. We must ask ourselves how we will respond to these dry spells. We have a couple of options and one is basically moving forward and the other moving backward. Moving backward means I dwell on the dryness and allow it to consume me to the point that I fall back into the "rules" of the Christian life. I simply follow the cultural expectations of Christianity and walk through those without putting forth the effort needed to have the holy loving personal relationship with Christ. This happens in human relationships and I think we often see it in marriages. For those who fail to nurture the marriage relationship, fail to feed the heart and soul of the relationship, it can easily fall into a routine. There is respect for the other person, there is a life lived together, but there is no tug at the heart. Eventually a day comes when they say "we simply fell out of love." Well, it didn't happen in one fell swoop, instead it happened over a progressive period of time until the relationship which had bound them together in the first place is gone because it was never fed or nurtured.
Our other option is to continue to press on, even during the dry spells, into our relationship with the Lord. Maybe it's time to reevaluate how we are spending time with the Lord. Does it need to change? Have we fallen in love with our habit and not with Jesus? Do we need to move to a different time? Do we need to spend more time in prayer? Do we need to be more committed to fasting? Do we just need to continue to press on and persevere through this time? Whatever it is that we need to do, we must do it for there is nothing more precious to us than our personal relationship with Jesus Christ and in this we must ever press on and move forward, no matter what!
The beauty of this new Covenant is the fact that it is defined by holy love. This is a relational Covenant and therefore can reach to the very core of our being and is expressed in love of God and love of neighbor. The simplistic manner of Jesus' responses often drove the religious officials crazy, but he understood love and relationships better than anyone on earth. We are invited into that deeply intimate relationship that exists within the Holy Trinity. That is a mystery, and yet it is the best news available for you and for me. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are bound together by holy love in their relationship and today and every day they continue to press on and invite you and me into their relationship, throwing their arms around us in a holy hug and binding us together with God forever in this love. And this is what transforms us, from the inside out.
This relationship is radically transformational and is the hope that our world needs. As Christ followers, what will we do with this loving relationship and with this good news that we have received? This new Covenant invites us into a relationship that we will want to share with a needy world. We have a responsibility, because we are bound by love, to share that love with those who are hurting. This is not a selfish relationship, but one in which we discover that God, abounding in love, has more to offer than we can ever imagine and we must be engaged in sharing that love with others.
Let's examine our hearts today and see where we stand in relationship with Christ. Are we living in the fulness of the new Covenant, in a life bound by love?
Lord, than you for the overflow of your love which reaches out to us day in and day out. Amen.