Sunday, 28 October 2018

God's New Deal - Hebrews 8:6 - 13

Life is full of examples where someone says "The old deal isn't working, can we have a new one?". Think of rail franchises, health provision contracts at the national level, but maybe you've personally had to go back to someone to ask for new terms yourself.

Our author has been writing to Christians of mainly a Jewish background. The author has paid attention to Jesus, showing in various ways contrasts between Jesus with who He is and aspects of the believers original Jewish faith. One of the contrasts has been the Jewish religious ritual and Jesus enabling us to freely live as sons and daughters of God.

Most religions seem to generate a kind of (unhealthy) fear of God, reminding us of how we are not right with God, but then offering ways in which we might almost strike a bargain with God to then be in the right with Him - it might be a religious ritual to perform, a sacrifice to make and so on.

Our author makes clear that in Jesus God brushes all that aside: God comes, and God enables a new deal! That new deal is spelt out in the passage in verse 10, quoting a Jewish prophet from 100s of years earlier. God will put His laws in their heads, writing it on their hearts so they can be His people. Amazing though that is, it is only part 1 of the deal! Part 2 is that 'they will know me for I will forgive all their wrongs'.

In the old ways, people are trying to be right with God - in the new God puts His right-ness on and in us. In the old people are trying to make amends, in the new God does that on our behalf. This is not simply a revised contract with slightly easier terms - this is a completely new world order. It is not deserved by us, but nevertheless this is the deal that God makes available to us.

So if we want to know how to live, we start with God, with the right-standing He has put on us, and with Him (by His Spirit) leading the way. That is why we are called 'Christians' - we are no longer living 'our life our way', but living in Christ's way, basing ourselves in what He has done for us. Now we should be clear: Christians are humans 'version 1.0' just like everyone else, which means we have ability to mess things up and do wrong just like everyone else. We are not perfect. God promises to write on our hearts how we should live - but we too easily block that out. So Christians are not guaranteed to be any better, so we will still do wrong - perhaps even horribly some times. Yet the offer of forgiveness, for the new chance, still stands. We must return again to God, with brutal honesty about ourself (no pretences, excuses, fudging), and again ask God to be included in the new deal, asking for direction on how to live right going forward.

That same deal, where you acknowledge that you can't bring anything to the party other than your raw self, yet God says 'I stamp on you my righteousness, I can cover over and remove your wrongs' is on offer to each and every one. Every person can be a son or daughter of God - by being in Christ, i.e. in the new deal.

That of courses changes things dramatically. If we are forgiven, then it is time to forgive others. God writing in our heart will affect how we behave towards others. Hence the question and challenge:

Key Qn: [OUT] How does God accepting you affect how you deal with other people?
Challenge: Extend that same new deal of forgiveness to someone this week


You may by now be thinking 'This is bonkers, or if true then surely it is true good to be true', for the world does not work like this. Yes indeed, that is the point - the world doesn't work like this, but God does! This whole letter is saying over and over that God has done enough in Jesus to say 'yes, this new deal is possible, it is on the table'. It is therefore for you to accept, which is only just one prayer away. If Jesus is speaking to you now, then the question is likely to be 'Are you in?'.

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