Living under the new covenant

Exodus 21:23-25 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

We are in an unusual place today.  We are western Christians, working with Indian Christians and surrounded by Hindus and Buddhists.  Funnily enough, the Hindus and Buddhists, and indeed most of the secular world, would relate very well to our text this morning.  It is what is called karma, reap what you sow, getting your just deserts, what goes around comes around.  It is the old covenant of the Bible.

But we live under the new covenant.  You might be very surprised who made the following statement:

“It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people…At the centre of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth…It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that ‘As you reap, so will you sow’ stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff. That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep shit. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.” (From Bono on Bono)

And this is at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian.  The new covenant superceded the old covenant to account for Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Matthew 5:38-41 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Karma was defeated.  Grace was installed as the modus operandi for God’s people.  This is the message that the Hindus and Buddhists need to hear – you don’t need endless reincarnations to reach Nirvana.  You don’t have to work your way to Nirvana.  Jesus did all of that on our behalf.

Ephesians 2:6-9 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

We are the favoured sons and daughters of God.  Jesus is our brother!  We have a great story to tell.

Hi Dad
This little bunch of your family is about to jump in a car and head to a remote village to visit some of our newly found relatives.  The roads over here are bit different to what we are used to, and safety is always a concern. Please keep a watch over us all on this trip.  Given the language barrier, help us tell the great story you have sent us here to tell.  But also give us the clear sight to see the things you want us to learn from this visit.
Chat again tonight.

This devotion was shared by Martin Oldfield when travelling with the Ipswich Lutheran Church in Myanmar.