As I have read the Bible, I have noticed patterns, themes, and motifs that, when looked at from a “bird’s eye view”, help me to understand the whole of scripture better. Granted, there are things I still do not understand. Many people look at the New Testament as a replacement of the Old Testament. When the Old Testament talks about rules, regulations, bizarre rituals, and even the wrath of God, the New Testament comes as a welcome vacation in which grace, mercy and love take over.
First, it is important to understand that the New Testament was not written as a replacement, but as a narrative of people who lived with Old Testament values. Christ came in the midst of this and redefined these values and gave them redeemed meaning, and even increased the standard concerning many teachings….often these new standards put a heavier responsibility (not more of a burden, but more of a passion for purpose) on the individual, because Jesus was calling his followers to a life of peace, love, hope, and joy….not just meaningless ritual.
In the beatitudes found in the book of Matthew, Jesus preaches a new standard while reminding people of various traditional teachings. For example, an “eye for an eye” (arguably the easier way to proceed) was raised to “love your enemies” (much more difficult). This is the way it is with other Old Testament teachings….when Jesus enters our life; we have a new standard of living…not one born of legalism, but out of love. This carries more responsibility.
If I were to preach, today, about the concept of forgiveness, apathy, or obedience to God in general, many would respond and understand their lives need to be adjusted to live according to God’s plan. IF, however, I were to talk about the concept of MONEY? Well, that would be too personal, and may even make people feel uncomfortable. This essentially indicates that this subject is off limits in the heart and life of the individual. Jesus talks about the heart issues behind giving instead of the exact amount or percentage. Why is this? Perhaps because Jesus knows that a heart that is given completely to him sets a higher standard.
Why is the only entity that offers hope, peace, abundance, and joy not allowed to talk about the substance and attitudes that binds so many people from achieving these things… we will look at this tomorrow… **to be continued**