Friday, December 14, 2007

Illuminating the Good News

I'm in the process of cleaning out my Yahoo!Mail inbox, an annual ritual. Fortunately, I only have 670 or so e-mails to rummage through this year, down from the more than 1,200 I went through last year. It may seem like a mundane task, but I actually enjoy reading old correspondence from family and friends. And occasionally I even run across a forgotten jewel, like the e-mail I sent to some family and close friends back in May 2005:


Have you ever wondered how Jesus was able to pare down
the entire Law of Moses to two all-encompasing
commands? Read Deuteronomy 30. Just the headings in
the NIV say a lot about the message, "Prosperity After
Turning to the Lord" and "The Offer of Life and
Death."

What I got from reading this chapter tonight is that
the law was ALWAYS about loving God, turning to Him
and relying on Him only. Legalistic people will try
and persuade you otherwise. They want to focus on the
"if you obey" parts instead of "the Lord your God
will" parts. Legalistic people always want to make it
about themselves instead of about God.

In verse six, it says the Lord will "circumcise your
hearts...so that you may love him...and live." The
whole point of the Law of Moses and the Gospel of
Jesus is to give life. Does that mean some mystical,
hereafter existence in a place called heaven? Look at
verse 20.

The very last line of the chapter makes it clear that
God will "give you many years in the land he swore to
give your fathers." In other words, the life will be
given here on earth. Its not just for the mysterious
hereafter.

When Jesus says he came to fulfill the Law, that means
he came to make that life possible for everyone, not
just a chosen few. He says that life is attainable if
we'll just love God with our whole being and love
others as ourselves.

I've been guilty for most of my adult life of looking
back on the Old Testament through legalistic eyes. I
thought it was the obedience that brought life, not
the grace of God. I also saw the New Testament through
legalistic eyes, thinking it was a "Sinless Life for
Dummies" guide. Now I understand differently.

If God is one who "gives grace to the humble," (Prov.
3:34) then he certainly must be looking for humble
people who will turn to him with all their being. That
has never changed. Deuteronomy exposes that truth as
the heart of the law. Jesus confirms it.

Grace means life, for the Jew and for the Gentile.
God's offer to humankind has always been abundant
life, in the Old Testament and the New. It comes
through relationship, not legalism, so choose life.
Love God and love others. Embrace the relational
Jesus, not some dead religion.

That e-mail must have lead my May 31, 2005 blog post, titled One Commandment. These are truths I still cling to even though I may not show it all too often. They are great reminders to me that love and humility are still key ingredients to my faith and core values to
which I should keep in the forefront of my mind. They should effect my actions more frequently.

With this being the season that focuses on the Incarnation, I thought it appropriate to once again reflect on the core message of the Gospel. The Good News is that God is Love and that love became flesh. May the Good News illuminate you this holiday season.

1 comment:

Chris said...

wow, ran across another lil' nugget in one of my 2005 e-mails to a friend:

"After my lunch today with an old friend who is an
"emerging" pastor eventhough he shuns the label, I was
able to see how much the doing affects the becoming.
For instance, when you guys sowed financially into our
lives during a time of need in December that affected
all of us. Likewise, when we exchanged "yard days"
recently, that tightened our relationship and affected
us all in positive ways.

What I'm getting at is anytime we take on the nature
of Christ by doing, we are in a sense becoming real
followers, real people, authentic
Christians...whatever you want to call it. I see now
that the becoming happens as we share life, whether by
sharing a cup of coffee or sharing in service. But
it's the latter that brings about the change most
effectively."