Today’s Bible reading
For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace.– Ephesians 2:14-15 (NRSV)
The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. – John 1:17
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. – Hebrews 10:8-10
In speaking of “a new covenant,” he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear. – Hebrews 8:13
More thoughts for meditation
In the second part of his book “A Scandalous Life” Bruxy Cavey spotlights how Jesus interacts with the religious establishment of his day. As a result, we can clearly see how his actions, teachings and irreligious agenda bypass the salvation system of his day in order to connect people directly with God. In the process of his Bible study, Cavey gives us all an opportunity to listen to the Bible again and investigate just how warped our relationship with God can get when we try to cram grace into our self-centered and self-controlled systems of self-preservation. Here is a good summary of what the whole section is about:
In a sense, Christ’s challenge to the dominant religion of his historical context becomes for us a kind of case study, from which we can draw transferable principles into our own context. The examples are particular, but if we do the work to understand them in their context, the spiritual wisdom we glean will be transcendent and transferable to our context.
The religious people of first-century Israel considered various external characteristics of their faith to be central to their spiritual lives. These were badges of identity, boundary markers of unique status and calling. We can divide these external identity markers into five categories, all of which Jesus challenged in some way:
Torah: The Law of Moses, including dietary laws and Sabbath regulations, was to be obeyed to the letter.
Tradition: Keeping the “tradition of the elders” (or Oral Torah) handed down from their ancestors was on par with obedience to Scripture (the Written Torah).
Tribalism: Ethnic, national, and cultural purity were bound together with religious identity.
Territory: A theology of holy geography meant that certain land, cities, and places were more sacred than others, and that war was a religious duty whenever this holy land was threatened.
Temple: God’s presence was believed to dwell in one holy location in a unique way where worshipers could offer sacrifices and receive forgiveness.
Notice that each of these identity markers engenders exclusivity. Together they helped prop up a strong “us versus them” mentality between Israel and the rest of the world.
Yes, God had granted Israel special status, but that status was not an end in itself—it was a means to an end, a call to a particular mission. In keeping with his heart for partnership, God had entrusted his message of love to Israel so they might carry his message to all the people of the world (see Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; Isaiah 2:2-4; 42: 6; 49:6; 60:3; Micah 4:1-7; Zechariah 8:20-23; Matthew 5:14-16; Romans 3:2). Instead, Israel was using the word they had received from God as a religious and cultural blockade, keeping them separated from the world around them and preventing them from fulfilling their mission to bring the light of God’s love to others.
Suggestions for action
Pray: Thank you Jesus, for making peace with God for me and everyone else.
You can see the trappings of all these themes in how the Evangelicals see the world. Many people in Circle of Hope left Evangelicalism, but held on to the worldview – you may have unconsidered re-interpretations of the wrong worldview you left behind. Sometimes you can see that worldview when we are discussing our adherence to virus regulations and how unholy we are about several societal sins. In our proverbs we say, “Jesus is the lens through which we read the Bible.” But do you even know what that means, or what you mean by it (if you ever think about it)? Cavey’s book is all about investigating our thinking again. Let’s try it.
Ponder today’s Bible readings and see if the first church agrees with Cavey or not. He purports to teach based on a straight reading of the Bible. Are you part of the New Covenant or the Old? Did you mix them up because you learned the Bible a certain way instead of meeting Jesus and seeing the world through His eyes?
It’s Mahalia Jackson Day on our sister blog, Celebrating the Transhistorical Body. Be inspired by her praise.