Thought for the week

Week beginning 12 February 2017:

Far from discounting God’s created order, Jesus raises the stakes to an even more exacting level.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the Archbishop of Wales discounting the laws of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, now that Jesus has come with his new approach. Jesus is all about compassion, he said, so the law doesn’t matter anymore.

In this bold and sweeping opinion, Barry Morgan directly contradicts Jesus’ own teaching, and he completely discounts the seriousness of God’s solution to the temporal and eternal results of living outside this law.  If we regard the law as God’s bringing order to an originally chaotic universe, we see its true nature. The ‘Law’ is God’s ‘order’, and it is beautiful to behold.

We see God’s order, not chaos, in the extraordinary beauty of the universe around us, in the animals and plants that populate it, in the ‘laws’, as they are still called, of nature.  Order is the opposite of dis-order, and dis-order is also called chaos. Where there is no ordering of things, chaos is inevitable. God pleads with people, and his people in particular, to choose his beautiful created order for our lives.

Paul laments that even when we say we follow Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, we often follow the teaching of
people rather than the order God laid down in creation.  Far from discounting the law, Go’s order, Jesus raised
the stakes: ‘You heard, but I say…’ comes four times in today’s gospel reading, with five references.

Murder: don’t even be angry / condemn without cause
Court cases: settle outside
Adultery: even looking leads to hell
Divorce: except for unfaithfulness leads to adultery
Vows: just say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

Did Jesus discount OT law? Not at all.  He came to put himself under its strict strictures, and ended up dying horribly as a result: chaos breaking out in his own flesh. He was willing to do this to take the chaotic results of living outside the fow of God’s beautiful created order into himself. Does this excuse beating each other, NO. This is part of the disorder, the chaos, Jesus came to neutralise.  We need to grow up.

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