Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Lenten Reflections, Day Twenty two, Fourth Sunday of Lent, What God do you believe in?


Day Twenty two, Fourth Wednesday of Lent.
What God do you believe in?

Matthew 5: 17 - 20

“ Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Many Christians like the New Testament better than the Old Testament. They like the New Testament, God, Abba, Daddy, better than the Old Testament God who is often full of wrath and violence and condemnation.

Jesus teaches that you should  respect both. The Old Testament God has His place but unless you move past the Old Testament God you won’t find the peace and bliss of the kingdom.

Parents know this. Parents know there are two kinds of love: the warm fuzzy lovey-dovey love and the correction, the discipline, the “I love you enough to make you behave yourself and keep you honest” love. As human beings we need the carrot and the stick.

Tough love often doesn’t look like love and the person on the receiving end of it often doesn’t experience it that way, but it is often clear that the person going to the trouble of extending tough love obviously cares about the object of this love and is willing to expend the energy and effort to help them become their better self.

Yet there must be more than this tough love. In fact without the warm fuzzy love in the first place, tough love isn’t likely to help. The Old Testament God provides the tough love and Jesus tells us about the New Testament God who provides the warm fuzzy love. People need both. The scribes and Pharisees were only concerned with the tough love, the letter of the law. They were not concerned with the Spirit of the law. Jesus teaches us that without the Spirit of the law, the letter of the law falls far short in guiding us to the kingdom.

God is unnamable and yet, as human beings, we tend to anthropomorphize God. He/she/it is both good and bad, constraining and freeing, restrictive and empowering. During the season of Lent as well as all through the year we struggle to renounce the things of the ego and search for the Unconditional Love of Spirit. We can attain the peace and bliss of Spirit but we must be purified first through forgiveness of ourselves and others to attain the height of Cosmic Consciousness.

This attainment comes from a choice. Which God do we believe in: the God of the Old Testament or the God of the New Testament or both? Jesus tells us to choose both but the first doesn’t do much good without the second.

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