Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK EIGHT
ORBIT – DAY THIRTY SEVEN
Hello and welcome to Orbit – a resource for daily time with God, created by the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. Each weekday we give you a bit of the Bible to ponder, plus a practical way of applying it to your life today.
BIBLE READING – Romans 13: 8-10
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.
Have you ever heard someone express the idea that the teachings of the Old Testament are actually replaced by those in the New Testament? This is a common misconception – and it’s quite understandable, given that Jesus opens up a way to God that wasn’t possible before he came. To the Jewish people in Paul’s time, this would have been the big concern about his preaching – that he was asking them to throw away thousands of years of law, history and tradition, in order to go and follow Jesus.
Today, this is an easy and convenient way to think about the Bible too. The Old Testament God, who so often seems angry, and involved in wars and obsessed with setting various rules and regulations, gets replaced by the lovely, cuddly New Testament God, who is called Jesus, talks about love a lot and sits children on his knee.
The problem is, this is totally wrong. For a start, Jesus is present all the way through the Old Testament, and for another, he isn’t actually all that nice! Jesus says a lot of incredibly harsh and difficult things, and is known for being quite spiky at times. Meanwhile the love and grace of God the Father is woven all the way through the Old Testament. If you pick out individual passages in either part of the Bible, you can form a warped opinion of who God is; actually he is consistent all the way through.
This is important, because God doesn’t change, and he also doesn’t change his mind. Sin is always the problem that separates him from us, and he always requires a solution to that problem. At first he gathers a people, and gives them a list of Commandments and rules to help them live as they were always intended to. But they can’t manage it – they are obsessed with worshipping other gods, and they keep forgetting him and what he has asked of them. So he sends Jesus as a once for all way of dealing with the problem of sin, so that all people can be in a relationship with him forever.
He doesn’t change his view of sin. Neither does he change what it means to live as we were meant to live. We were always created to love other people, and that is exactly what the commandments were meant to lead us to. When Jesus comes he doesn’t replace the system of laws and commands – he draws them together; he clarifies them into a single thread. His teaching is that we should love one another – but that was always the point of the commandments anyway. As Paul says: “love does no harm to a neighbour” – God just wanted us to play nicely with each other, all along.
There’s a couple of things to draw from this. First – that the call of the Christian life is to love others; and that’s what God has wanted of us since the beginning of time. And second – it’s really important to look at the Bible not as an irrelevant old part and a current new part, but as one magnificent story of God loving the world, and calling the world to love.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
God, I thank you that you love me. I thank you that you love my community, my country, and the whole world. I thank you that you loved us so much, that you sent your son Jesus to die for us. Teach me to love others, as a response to your love – and in a way that draws more people towards your way of love, so that together your family might transform the world. Amen
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
Take a dive today into the Old Testament, and see if it confirms your expectations. Sometimes we need a bit of help navigating the mix of books and styles, so choose something from either Genesis, Exodus or the Psalms, and see how God is described there. Ask God to show you something about his character in what you read – it may surprise you.
If you want to get in touch, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Instagram – we’re @stmarys_satellites. Let us know what you think of this daily reflection – please – we’d love your feedback.
We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit tomorrow. Thanks for taking part today!