July 20, 2019

The Covenant of Jesus Created a New Way To God (Proper C16)

The desire of Gods’ heart is a personal love relationship with each individual. To achieve this God had to give us free will. Love is a choice, so we had to have the ability to choose not to love Him. The readings remind us of the importance of making the right choices and the Good News that God created a new way back into right relationship through the new Covenant of Jesus.

1. Amos (8.1-12) reminds us we can loose our relationship with God
Amos was writing 700 years before the time of Jesus and warning the Hebrew nation they had failed to keep the Covenant of Moses and lost their protection and special relationship with God. This was a hundred years before they were invaded, destroyed as a nation with the survivors taken off to Babylon for 80 years captivity. They were cut off from God and had “a famine for hearing the word” of God. They would search for the word of God but not find it.

2. The Story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10.38-42) reminds us that nothing is more important than listening to Jesus
Like Martha, many people are so distracted by life that they do not make time to listen to Jesus by reading their Bibles or praying and listening to the Holy Spirit (the continuing presence or word of Jesus in the world). Mary knew intuitively in her spirit, that Jesus was not just a man but the long expected messiah. The Bible teaches us that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. We know he was fully human because his mother was Mary; he was tempted by Satan and could feel pain and die physically. We know He was divine because his father was not Joseph but God the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1.18)

The Colossians Reading (1.15-28) describes Jesus as:
·      “The image of the invisible God” – what God would look like if you could see Him
·      “In Him all things were created” – existed before time
·      “God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in him”
·      “…through Him to reconcile to Himself all things”

These words make Jesus teachings authoritative and qualify Him as a sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Often the reason people have trouble believing Jesus could pay for the sins of the whole world is they have trouble believing Jesus was fully divine.

3. God made a new Covenant in Jesus (Colossians 15-28)
The essence of Christianity is that God made a new covenant of forgiveness and restoration through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross. God had a huge problem. God is holy, pure and undivided; while we are unholy, impure and divided. Every time we fail to love God or our neighbour fully and make a choice to rebel against God’s authority and rules (10 Commandments), we separate ourselves more and more. Our personal spirit can become so polluted by our failures to love God and our neighbour that we could not survive in God’s presence. It would be like putting an open can of gasoline beside a raging fire. Our spiritual pollution would be burned up in the holy fire of God’s pure love. God is merciful and wants to have a personal relationship, so He made a New Covenant in the shed blood of Jesus:
·      “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
·      God created a new way back into right relationship when we rebel and fail to love God and our neighbour as ourselves.
·      Forgiveness is conditional on belief in Jesus – what He said
·      Forgiveness is dependent on repentance for each instance of each specific sin, confession to a priest or elder or righteous church member:
·      “Therefore for confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5.16)
·      “If you forgive any mans sins they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them they are not forgiven.” (John 20.23)                       

We renew this Covenant of Jesus in Holy Communion through teaching, confession of our specific sins silently in a general confession, receiving forgiveness and sharing a covenant meal.           

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