Sunday, 24 June 2012

Earthly power

We have already explored the idea of covenant
The very first conversant wans between Noah and God is that after the flood
And it was sided arrangement. 
God continued to forge relationships with his chosen people
These relationship were based on Gods protecting the Jews
And the Jew worship in God alone
This idea is given human form in the new testernment:
Jesus in Mark 14:24 refers to his crucifixion as forming a covenant with believers
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ 
Of course this new convernatal relationship
One which is drastically different from that between Noah and Mosses.

In the first reading the prophet Jeremiah is recounting a meeting with God
In this meeting God is demanding that his people stop worshiping false Gods
He refers to the current covenant (made with Mosses)
In which God has delivered them from Egypt to Israel
And he is warning Jeremiah that the Jews are not keeping their part of the agreement
And that the cost of this is God would end the protection of the ppl of Israel 

In are second readings of Luke we hear about the cost of following Jesus.
One the face of is this passage is about physically following Jesus
But it can also be read as the cost of accepting Jesus
“No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”
Indeed if you take the covenanter view of is passage
Jesus is asked by many good men who fell called to follow him
He warns the first about personal privation (no home, no rest)
He warns the next good man that if he chooses to follow him
He must forsake any human concern

And to the last man he warns that once he embarks on this path there is no turning back
This is the price of entering a covenant to follow Jesus
I think this should be taken as a warning
Often people follow Christ and talk only of the rewards
But I can testify to the cost
And the greater the commitment the greater the cost

The Jews merely had to have one God but we the followers of Jesus have to give of ourselves
The Jewish covenant was flesh for protection but are Christian on is the blood of God for grace

So far so good and then the third and fourth reading
Well – cripes
Where to start?
Well to me Peter 1 and Romans 13:1-10 make similar point
but for me Peters words have a direct implications for us today.
Today we are faced with a situation similar to that described by Peter
We live in a society which does not accept our beliefs
And in which the government allows actions which run contrary to are beliefs
So how can we react?
Shall we shut the doors of are temple?
Shall we kneel before the might of the state?
Shall we adopt the norms of our society?

Well we have been reminded that we must maintain are covenant with God
And we must maintain the law
We are not called to take power for ourselves or to revolt against the powers that be
Indeed both Peter and Paul tell us to submit to earthly power
Peter extols the virtues of suffering for doing good
As odd as some of you may find these teachings they do give us a model of living in this world
It accept that powerful people may not always be good or believers
It tacitly accepts that after Gods law man’s law shapes the world we live in
These passages guide us when those around us forsake the Lord our God
We must keep the covenant with are God first
But stay within the laws of men second
For no one will hear good news from a condemned man

It remains us that when surrounded by pagan men
We must shine all the brighter with goodness
And never restor to evil or violence
We must in short submit ourselves to the care (for better or ill to earthly authority)
Regardless of our physical comfort we must maintain the covenant
We must alone keep the lord they god as sovereign
We alone must keep his law 
It is not an easy message but remember
No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’

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