Column: Thinking like a Christian
The Bible tells us – plainly – that the New Covenant of Jesus Christ is founded in love, grace and faith.
That’s the New Testament. That’s Christianity. We are to focus on God and others in servant-hearted love. We are forgiven and freed from sin thanks to divine grace. Christianity has only one requirement: faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Risen Christ, and Savior of Mankind. Believe that, and your life changes.
It couldn’t be simpler.
So why do churches routinely complicate Christianity with the Old Covenant, whose Law forces one to focus on the self by constantly asking, “Am I following the rules?” In the Law sin wasn’t forgiven; it was atoned for by sacrifices and works. A person’s faith was naked before God. God favored some, cursed others, confused many, chose a nation, provided commandments, laws, judges and kings, and, depending on which part of the Law a person happened to believe, implied salvation based on an unspecified formula of obedient righteousness.
The Old Testament is joyous to read once one understands that the whole point of the whole story is not the rules, but the coming Lordship and supremacy of Jesus Christ. The mistake made in modern Christian sermons is in cross-breeding the transactional, fearsome nature of the Old Testament with the grace-focused, sin-covering promise of the New Testament.
People try to explain the New Testament with the Old Law, and that’s exactly backwards; the New Testament reveals what God was up to in the Old Testament.
We learn that the Cross of Jesus Christ changed everything, except God. We discover what God intended for mankind the whole time, and what man needed to understand about himself before he could enter eternal relationship with God. Proper biblical teaching affirms that Christianity is about Christ, not about me.
The Law in the Old Testament was about what I do, who I am, and how I act in this life: i.e., entirely about “me.” Anyone carefully reading the Old Testament has to notice that if there is one, overriding lesson of the Old Covenant, it is that man is truly, truly terrible at following directions. Hence – God knows – the need for grace.
I love the Old Testament because it tells me about the character, faithfulness and person of God, the fallen nature of human beings, the glory of Creation, and the evil of Satan. It teaches that God is always faithful to his Word, not to man’s worldly desires.
Want wisdom, courage, strength, freedom and peace? Jesus Christ is our wisdom, courage, strength, freedom and peace. Always. The Holy Spirit tells us so.
Learn from the Old, but believe in the New.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) thinks, and believes.