For over 1400 years God’s people were defined by “the law” a rigid set of rules designed to set Israel apart as a holy nation and neatly sort people into categories of “clean” and “unclean.” When Jesus came on the scene, He established something new and something better. He came to fulfill the Old Covenant so He could establish a better covenant, an agreement between God and all mankind on the basis of Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice. This new, better covenant was a covenant defined by grace.
The Old Testament (or the Old Covenant) is God’s agreement with a particular nation for a particular time and purpose. How does this compare to the way most Christians read and understand the Old Testament? How does that fact change the way you read and understand the Old Testament?
Jesus introduced a New Covenant founded on one word: Grace. Though the Bible, the songs we sing and the sermons we preach speak so powerfully about this word, we struggle to believe it. Why is it that we would rather judge ourselves and others by the law (how good we/they are) and not by grace?
In the early church there was a debate about the law and how much of it to require gentiles to obey in order to be a part of the Church. The final decision was written in a letter. It read simply: “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.” (Acts 15:29a, NIV) How does that answer make you feel about the moral obligations the early church gave to pagans? Does it seem too strict or too lenient?
How does that approach compare to the Church’s response to outsiders today? What are some things we need to change (or be willing to change) in order to be more welcoming to outsiders?
God doesn’t treat us how we deserve (and that is a good thing). Show the same grace that has been given to you to the people around you.