It’s like the “Emperor’s New Clothes”, do you remember that story? A pair of Swindlers came to town claiming to be weavers. They could weave the most beautiful fabrics imaginable. Clothes made of this cloth would become invisible to anyone who was not fit for their office, or unusually stupid.
No one wanted to reveal themselves as fools for not being able to see the cloth. Everyone thought they were alone in their observations. They boasted of its beauty and marveled at its design. It wasn’t until a small child finally declared, “But he hasn’t got anything on.” The town suddenly realized he wasn’t wearing clothing at all.
The king’s response speaks to our nature. He shivered, as he suspected they were right. But, he thought, “The procession must go on.” He raised his chin and walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all [Andersen, H. C. (2019, September 19). H.C. Andersen centret. Retrieved September 27, 2019, from https://andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheEmperorsNewClothes_e.html.].
I grew up in the church. My father is a minister. I’m a minister. I studied and received my bachelor’s degree from a reputable Christian College. I practiced in professional ministry as an ordained minister for over ten years. I have devoted my life to the teachings of Jesus. So, please understand I don’t make these statements lightly.
The culture I see in the church reminds me of the musicians playing as the Titanic sank. The church culture is the Titanic, we’re the musicians. Elders, deacons, regular attenders, church planters, ministers, boards, committees, and so on are all playing our hearts out. We believe we are changing the world one note at a time. The sad truth is, it has nothing to do with the music we’re playing, we’re on the wrong ship. The ship of Christian Culture, religion, programs, and politics.
Jesus explained what he was establishing was very different. He used the example of pouring new wine into old wine skins, or sewing a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment (Mark2:21-22). The old contract or Old Testament (Law) contained traditions and practices commanded by God until the fulfillment of the law. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. He didn’t come to destroy it, he came to fulfill it.
Think about what this means. It means those teachings made for Israel, those promises to Israel, those instructions regarding Justice and genocide were made for Israel at a specific time for a specific reason. The law established Israel as “Holy” (Set apart). It protected Israel, as a people, for the proper time of Christ’s arrival. The fulfillment of all that had happened up to that point.
I’ll give you an example. Justice is big in the Old Testament. “Eye for an eye . . . (Exodus 21:24).” There were cities of refuge (Joshua 20) designed for those who killed someone by accident. This gave them a safe place until they could stand trial. Everyone was entitled to Justice. That was the Old Testament. Jesus addresses the Old way of doing things in Matthew 5:38-42. “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. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
There it is, out with the old and in with the new. Now, what happens when you try to mix the two philosophies? You do what you want. You offer forgiveness when it’s convenient and murder to accomplish your will. You travel to a third world country and build housing on a mission trip, but return home to a nation of closed borders. You incarcerate and rip apart families in the name of Justice, while you send a few dollars a week to an orphan whose picture is on your refrigerator. We become okay with these inconsistencies because we combine the old with the new covenants. Now we’re forgiven and free to do what we want. We are more evil and dangerous than ever before, all under the guise of Christianity.
The great Crusades were Justified through Old Testament Scripture. Rape, murder, war, and unbridled greed were justified with Holy Scripture from the Old Testament. Look at worship today, we meet in churches, temples, and synagogues as though God’s presence were confined to a location as he was in the Old Testament. We have a set service with offering, worship, altars, and traditions just as they did in the Old Testament. Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not churches, committees, boards, and services. Those are the old. Those are to be thrown out. He didn’t ask us to replicate the old with a Jesus twist. He said, “I make all things new (Rev. 21:5).”
It breeds fake conformity. No one is challenged outside of feeling guilty. It feels fake because it is fake. The blending of the new and old is not real and has nothing to do with the radical teachings of Jesus. Church feels like a Hobby Lobby selling forgiveness and security scented with pumpkin spice. It’s like following a cause on Facebook. We feel good we’re following, but we don’t have to do or sacrifice anything.
Sacrifice is at the heart of the Gospel. It’s the catalyst that frees us. But we wouldn’t know anything about that because we’re too busy sewing unshrunk cloth on an old garment.
God has joy waiting for you in everything. Lay aside your mix match assumptions about scripture. I want to invite you to try something with me. Look at the New Covenant and Jesus’ teachings as new. Set aside the Old Testament. Experience your brightest tomorrow as the birds of the air do, without worry (Matthew 6:25-34). Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in our study of Scripture. Cast off the burdens of the Old Testament. Live free in Grace fulfilled through sacrifice; his sacrifice, our sacrifice every day.
In His service and yours,