Wonder Lake, IL. Feb. 7, 1995. A new year, a new page,
a new start. Greetings and best wishes for 1995. Let's start the
new year with some newsworthy items.
OK, there's some news as usual, to keep the title of this rag honest. Now on with the editorial content that keeps my readers on the heels of their mail carriers - not to mention so many bird cages lined!
What is a Covenant?
In the last few issues I made some comments about the book Rome Sweet Home, by Scott and Kimberly Hahn, and about Scott's description of an ever more inclusive covenant between God and his people. With deepest apologies, I totally missed the point about what a covenant is. I implied, as many others assume, that a covenant is a contract, an agreement. Scott's main point was much more beautiful: a covenant is a marriage, a family. We are family with God! Not mere partners, employees or slaves, but brothers and sisters in Christ.
To God, it seems, a covenant is much more important than a contract. Consider the pains He took to build an Ark for his Covenant with Moses and the Israelites. Exodus has chapter after chapter (25 through 31) of instructions for the building of and the reverence to be shown not only to the Covenant, but to the Ark as it repository. Measurements, materials, how the angels were to face, how it was to be lined, who was to be the master builder, who was to be the assistant, etc... All these details point out the reverence that God wanted shown to the Covenant, and to the Ark as well. How the priests were to be vested, by whom it could be moved and touched, all this because God said that this is where He would dwell; that there He would meet them, and from the propitiatory He would give them all the commandments he wanted to give them. (cf Exodus 25:22)
There's more to the story though; God's word is a living word, not merely historical, but living truth. When David made his first attempt to move the Ark to Jerusalem, a guard, Uzzah, reached out to steady it as the ox cart began to tip. (2 Samuel 6:6-7) Uzzah's concern was rewarded by instant death! Not for touching the stone tablets which were the symbol of the Covenant, but for touching the Ark, and yet the Ark was just a piece of furniture that sheltered the tablets. David was so disturbed by this that he postponed the rest of the journey until he was sure that God wasn't angry anymore.
As I said, God wanted to show us not only how important His Covenant was, but how important the Ark was. By showing reverence to the Ark, the Israelites were in fact showing reverence to the Covenant, and to God whose gift it was. On this matter rested not only the importance of the covenant with His people Israel, but also the prophecy of His New Covenant in Christ Jesus with all His children. Should we not also see that we need to show reverence to the Ark that sheltered the New Covenant: Mary, the virgin mother of God?
Clearly, God did not consider the Ark a mere piece of furniture.
Again, apologies to Dr. Hahn for the misrepresentation on so important
a point as the meaning of a Covenant. Also, a thank you to the
anonymous authors of Words from Heaven (©1991, St.
James Publishing; Birmingham AL) for insights into the Ark of
the New Covenant.
It seems to be becoming a habit of mine to take a closing theme of the previous issue and stretch it out a bit in the current. I closed the last one with the thought that it might be the final one, because I have preached too much and practiced too little. But why do I write these things in the first place? In the beginning, the motivation came from the fire I felt from God's touch of Love, and I wanted to speak out and convert people - show them that God is real! I also wanted to show the world how wrong it was and, by juxtaposition, how "right I was". The motivation is still the same, a response to God's love, but the tone has changed a bit over the months (I hope), and the reasons have changed subtly with the tone. It seems in the long run that I want to share my journey with those I know and love. I don't want to keep God to myself.
I must set the record straight, however. There was too much self-righteousness in the fabric on my comments. I know that God calls each of us in ways that are personally meaningful, yet I seem to expect everyone to understand and agree with what God has told me in my heart. I proclaim His commandments as more than mere suggestions, yet I speak with a heart fill of spiritual pride. "Don't you just have to agree that I'm a good person?" Well, I'm not a good person, just human it seems. I've plenty of faults that I'm not nearly so eager to share.
So I continue. I see some mistakes with previous issues, and
I want to correct them. I see some of the vague points and want
to clarify them. I want to set the stage (soapbox?) for the approaching
crossroads in my life.
Sometimes us preachy types set ourselves up as better than others. We're quick to pass hell-fire judgment on others for what they do and say, what they believe, and which church they belong to. Sometimes it's more subtle. Sometimes, for instance, we insist that the way we accepted Jesus as our personal Savior is the only way to heaven, and therefore we insist that everyone has to have the same experience or they're doomed. We need to step down from the pulpit and live the Gospel: they will know we are Christians by our Love.
What about the folks who have always accepted Jesus as their Savior, but wouldn't express it that way? There are many in the Body of Christ who live their entire lives believing in God, never needing to be bashed over the head with a ton of grace - as the saying goes. Their faith is simple, they haven't seen or felt a major personal Miracle, but they see God at work in small ways throughout their lives. They believe, they pray, they live in a Christian spirit. Oh, sure, they aren't perfect, and their lives may appear very "secular" since they don't wear God on their sleeves and quote scripture, they may even be uncomfortable with us "born-again" types, but rest assured; they are the backbone of the Body of Christ.
Now's the time to break up the we-they dichotomies. Enough of this church is the "Whore of Babylon", or that church doesn't have the fullness of the Gospel, and especially the infamous charge of Deicide against the Jews. Our own sins are just as responsible for putting Christ on the Cross. Let's stop trying to convert the converted, and pray as Jesus did; "so that they may all be one". (JN 17:21)