Is it time for a new Ark? You may remember in In the story of Noah; “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created!”. And God worked on with Noah and created the Ark with its cargo and the consequent FLOOD as a means of purifying the world..
This ancient story underlines for me the escalating wickedness and horror of today – we live in daily expectation of suicide bombers, terror actions, school yard or other hostage atrocities, and the list just goes on and on to the point where horror is the normal nightly news diet. It seems rare that there is an evening where there is no report of sexual depravity, political chicanery, or simple neighborly violence to nourish the insatiable appetites of the news machine .
God’s Love Outworking
We need to focus on the positives of God’s love outworking in our community and in our interactions. It is very easy to get depressed about the negatives and react accordingly, instead of seeing the positives of love in action. We greet a “telephone scammer” with hostility instead of forbearance; we offer a rude gesture to a traffic violator instead of a blessing; and irritation, rather than friendly calm, to the overworked sales person in the shop. It is really easy to become part of the “violence” problem instead of offering positive reactions to reinforce our God given and freely imparted LOVE. Today’s sermon focused on the “Two Great Commandments**“; and SO should we!
** Mark 12:30-31 NIV : Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jeremiah was a gloomy prophet who lived between 600 and 500BC. We are very indebted to him for telling about the advent and work of the Holy Spirit that would take place when Jesus was raised from the dead. He said; “This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” This New Covenant is generally understood to govern the change that happens to a person when they take Jesus into their lives, their sins are forgiven, and they are born again. Instead of staggering under the law of the ten commandments, plus the hundreds of other Mosaic laws that governed the Jews, they would be ruled by the Holy Spirit, working in their lives from within.
Taken in conjunction with the “New Commandment” (that we love one another ); this becomes a major change in the way we perceive God – instead of quaking in condemnation under the weight of all those social and moral laws, we instead live in love and obedience, under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit. When the religious leaders questioned Jesus about the law, He replied; “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and the most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ 40 The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:37-40)
Ten Commandments Redundant
The consequences of this change are immense. We no longer spend our lives trying to be good and living under law; but instead live a positive life of doing good. Note the difference, not trying to BE GOOD, but DOING GOOD! If you really love your neighbour, you don’t need commandments to “not covet his ass”, or to “not rob” him. The old commandments become redundant in the light of the new commandment to Love your neighbour. It is very significant to me that this paradigm shift in how we perceive God’s Kingdom is actually a complete change from slavish reactive obedience to the law; to the proactive life of reaching out in love to all we meet. As we take that new commandment literally, we are too busy loving and being loved to get into trouble with the ten commandments. We do not need commandments when we are inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, and the fruit of the spirit** grows within us.
**Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.