The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
All human beings have behaviors. That is, all of us behave in certain ways.
We might ask, ‘what is the motivation for my actions?’ Why do I do what I do? 🙂 On my way to work is a school zone with a flashing speed limit sign of 15 MPH. What is my motivation for slowing down as I pass Benjamin Chambers School? Is it the external motivation of ‘getting caught’ and ‘paying fines? ‘ Or is it an internal motivation for the safety of little faces? What does it mean to have a law written on our hearts?
‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Our ‘laws of the land’ are meant to control our behaviors. ‘Religious laws’ are meant to develop our behaviors. What can happen when ‘religious laws’ control behavior instead of develop behaviors? Think of examples of both.
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’
Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.’
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
Eliza is 8 years old and taking lessons on both piano and ukulele. Her music making is hemmed in by her inexperience and by the notes she is being directed to play. But one day… one day she will play improv. Eliza will go off the page.
Jesus talks about the distinction between slavery and freedom. About the powers that capture us and the experience of what is like to be released from those powers. The law of liberty it is called sometimes. Romans talks about the movement that goes from commandment… to love.
If my life is like a song how much of my music is free from the page and into my neighborhood? How much of my life is off the pages of the bible and into the people around me? Is love guiding my politics? My thinking? My actions?