Monday, September 21, 2009

Rethinking the New Covenant ...

Did you know that we're in the new covenant...?

Now, this may elicit a big collective "duh" from y'all, but I've come to believe that while we talk new covenant, we tend to think, and thus live, old covenant.

Christianity strikes me as being uber-fixated on adherence to the law, external rules, striving, achieving, measuring-up, sin, shame, fear and separation ... rather than realizing what's been done, who we are, and the inherent freedom we have ...

The old covenant, as I'm seeing it, was a contract that God made with humanity ... it was God meeting humanity where they were at that time, bringing them out of the darkness of their own thinking, into the progressive unveiling of truth, little by little, step by step.

I see that the awareness of God's Truth is a progressive one ... I see this displayed both in the macro-story of all of scripture, and in the micro-story of my own life ...

Initially, humans saw a plethora of gods, who warred with each other, with man in the cross-hairs of that dangerous drama. We had volcano-gods who spewed lava-wrath onto villages and crops, with capricious randomness ... seemingly furious with man, and punishing. As humans are wont to do, they turned to bargaining ... and determined that the gods must be appeased ... by sacrificing that which was most precious. And so began the practice of tossing in first-borns and virgin-daughters, so that the gods would perhaps back off a bit.

Enter Abraham, and the dawning awareness that there was but One God ... but old habits die hard, and the concept of human sacrifice still prevailed. God had to dramatically show Abraham that He wasn't interested in having humans killed to appease Him ... in fact, God Himself provided the sacrifice... surely the killing of an animal was a step in an enlightened direction...!

We may notice that this knowledge of One God didn't have too much of an impact where human behavior was concerned ... more progression in thought and awareness was required ...

Enter Moses, who was given the law -- rules of conduct by which man was to live. These were "training wheels", or a "tutor", given to provide humans with boundaries, until humankind progressed enough in our relationship and awareness of God that we would no longer need an external list of rules to obey (see Galatians 3:24, 25).

Interestingly, the law was given right after the time of enslavement in Egypt (I see the Bible as both an account of remembered-history, and a metaphorical parable of our own spiritual journey). Perhaps Egypt is symbolic of the darkness and enslavement of the human consciousness/mindset, wherein we are in bondage to the world's group-think. Perhaps Egypt symbolizes the imagination of man that WE have created, and enslaved ourselves to ... in bondage to our own beliefs...

In spite of this revelation of the law, humans continued to live in confusion about God ... seeing God as one who rewarded and punished, depending on the behaviors of the humans ... as if God created us unable to follow Him, and then punished us for our own inherited inability...!

What if human-thinking, imagining ourselves to be separated from God, came up with the concept of following the law, and receiving either blessings or punishmnents, in the first place...? What if that was the best thinking man could come up with at the time? What if God met us where we were, and let us follow the natural consequences of that thinking, showing us the results of thinking we had to EARN God's approval, allowing us to exhaust ourselves with all that endless, empty, inevitably-failing striving ... so that we could SEE for ourselves that our own efforts (to get what we'd always had) were a waste...?

What if that was what it took, for us to come to our senses?

(& it begs the question: have we YET come to our senses?!?)

I notice how God kept talking to and through the prophets, saying things like, "I never wanted to be your Master -- I want to be your Husband" ... "I never wanted sacrifice -- I want mercy" ... as if to say, "Hey, guys, you've got Me all wrong! I'm not the Source of your misery ... your thinking is the source of your misery! I keep trying to show you what I'm like, but you prefer to see me through your own darkened thinking! Do I have to come down there to SHOW you what I'm like?!?"

And God kept saying, through the prophets, that this covenant/age would come to an end (note: it was never the "end of the world", but the end of the age), and that a new covenant, a new age, a new heavens and new earth, a new Jerusalem, a new Kingdom, would replace the old one (& yes, I do see all those as synonymous, as I discover that they're biblically synonymous).

So what did those prophets say that the new covenant would be like...? It would be a covenant of peace, of joy, of love ... no disease, no sin, no iniquity ... all would know God, former enemies would live in peace, we would see as God sees, justice would prevail ... we would have no need for any human to teach us, for we would have One Teacher ... we would live by His Light ... we would be governed from within ... the law would be written on our hearts ... our Sabbath rest would be a way of life (rather than a thing to be externally observed) ... our hearts would be circumcised ... our hearts of stone would be replaced with hearts of flesh ... there would be no distinctions regarding gender, or age ... all would have the Spirit ... all would be One... Love and Mercy would prevail... Mercy would triumph over judgment.

Enter Jesus, who said and did the most radical and anti-religious things. Like, "I and the Father are One" ... "if you've seen me, you've seen the Father" ... "I have come that you might have Abundant Life" ... "you will be forgiven as you forgive" ... "May they be One, as we are One, and they One with us" ... "my Kingdom does not come by observation, but is in your midst, within you" ... "The Spirit will lead you into all truth" ... "no one comes to the Father unless the Spirit draws them" ... "I will draw all men to myself" ...

Now, here's the problem.

We all tend, from the Jews of that day, to the Christians of this day, to expect to see (*observe*) a literal/physical fulfillment of those promises ... rather than realizing that Jesus was speaking of a spiritual awareness -- a spiritual dimension, available here and now, for those who have eyes to see, rather than a literal/physical fulfillment.

In every way, the new covenant replaces and surpasses the old covenant ... the literal/physical/tangible foreshadowing of the old covenant was surpassed with the superior spiritual fulfillment in the new covenant.

So that external/physical circumcision becomes internal/spiritual circumcision of the heart.

So that external/physical observation of a Sabbath day becomes internal/spiritual Rest as a way of life.

So that the external/physical adherence to the Law becomes an internal/spiritual desire to live and demonstrate love (which is the fulfillment of the law).

So that the external/physical kingdom becomes an internal/spiritual Kingdom within.

So that the external/physical Jerusalem becomes an internal/spiritual New Jerusalem within.

It is insane to think that there is a coming "utopia", an external/physical fulfillment of the return of Jesus, rather than seeing that He has already returned, in the more superior-spiritual fulfillment of US manifesting as The Christ...!

Christianity, in teaching a literal/physical return, a literal/physical kingdom, a literal/physical utopia, ignores this physical-surpassed-by-spiritual progression, and instead reverts backwards ... mistakenly thinking that the physical trumps the spiritual, and actually lulls us into MISSING that which we now HAVE..!

As I see it, the new covenant was always here, always the ultimate reality ... available to us if we had eyes to see ... and indeed, throughout recorded history, there were those who were able to enter in, by seeing beyond the physical/tangible, able to experience a relationship with God as He actually is ... able to move beyond the fear-based thinking of man, into the Love-based truth of God.

But, in order to move into the new (the ultimate reality), we have to let go of the old. The old has to die before the new can emerge .. it was always there, but we are blind to it.

We must die to self ... die to the old way of thinking, the old way of seeing, the old way of relating to God based on fear... on imagining that we are separate from Him. We must no longer allow ego to tell us what is what, so that Spirit can show us the truth.

Any time we find ourselves striving, using human effort to gain, we are admitting that w do not yet understand who we are, and the eternal truth of our existence. Human effort to achieve anything spiritually is a statement that we do not yet understand grace. And thus, we are putting ourselves back under the "old covenant", back under the law, with all it's laws and punishments.

It is by grace that we are who we really are.

It is by grace that we come to know and see and understand the REAL nature of God, and who we are IN God.

It is by grace that we rise above every obstacle that *seems* to be in our way (i.e., anything that causes us to believe we are less than who we are in Christ).

When we do not accept what Jesus came to show us about God, about us ... when we continue to try to be worthy ... when we try to earn God's acceptance ... when we try to please God to avoid His 'wrath' ... when we strive under a sense of having to prove anything ... to that degree we are STILL LIVING UNDER THE LAW. And thus we are denying Christ, and grieving the Spirit.

When will we believe, and accept, and live in accordance with the reality that the Spirit is the "true Light which lights every man born into this world"...? (John 1:9)

Why are we still trying to earn what we already have, and who we already ARE?

Jesus told us that WE (& He) are the Light of the world.

John writes that "of his fullness we have all received."

We're told that we have been translated out from the kingdom/consciousness of darkness, into the kingdom of the Son.

(notice how none of those statements suggest a future state, but are NOW...?)

So, why don't we believe those? Why do we behave as if we still have to earn something, by our own efforts? Why are we living in despair, as if we won't achieve that?

Why do we not yet know that our beliefs, that which we've been taught to believe, are in direct contradiction to that which the Spirit of God teaches, what Jesus taught?

Why do we teach the old, even while declaring that the new has come?

It's because we believe what we are *seeing* ... and we see what we *believe*. We ignore what Jesus warned against -- we insist on judging according to external appearances, rather than judging according to "righteous judgment."

Righteous judgment is agreeing with God. No matter WHAT the external circumstances declare. Righteous judgment is saying that the illusions we see are NOT ultimate reality.

We can ASK for, and expect to receive, God's version of truth ... He will renew our minds, so that we can see as He sees, if we want His truth more than we want what we think is truth.

Which do you *want*...?

Shalom, Dena


MysticBrit said...

Honestly, Dena, you pack more truth into a few paragraphs than I've heard in 30 years or more of sermons. My spirit dances with the Spirit on reading your words.
Joy unspeakable, and full of glory:D

Dena said...

Ah, you give me FAR too much credit here, Harry... I'm more of a collector ... I read a lot, process a lot (that introvert mind), and then put various things together in a cohesive tapestry.

Then I share it!

So glad you're dancing with me...!

C'mon, Baby, let's do the Shift! :)

MysticBrit said...

You're a collector of truth, Dena, which you then find yourself having to distribute to the Great Unwashed, on pain of spiritual self-combustion;).

I process a lot, too (as you might've noticed), but I'm lazy so I'm quite happy to let you do most of the reading and weaving. For now anyway:)

I love me that rhythm! Boogie on down!