Have you ever longed for something new? For a change? Maybe of jobs, homes, scenery, hair color? It could be anything. I believe that if we’re honest, most of us have at some point in our lives wished for change or a break.
Most of my students wish school were over for them. They long to be on their own or away from the grind of high school. A few realize that perhaps the grass on the other side of the fence is not greener and are dreading graduation day. But they still wish for new things, no matter how much they enjoy what they’re doing. Some want to travel – to see new places and faces. Others wish to find a secure job or start a family.
New is elusive. Shiny. Attractive. But when Jesus instituted His new covenant with the peoples of the Earth, many reacted as if it were subpar or a bit dull. After all, it didn’t come with a list of commandments chiseled into stone tablets by God’s own hand. It didn’t even come with a long list of rules to be followed.
Instead, it came with the summation of all the previous rules and commands. Jesus said His followers were to love God and love one another. Later in Matthew 28 he told His followers to go and teach.
The command to “Love others as I have loved you” meant different things to each apostle. Just as it means different things to us today. Jesus loved Matthew the tax collector differently than He loved Peter, the rather opinionated fisherman. He loved John differently than he loved James. He loves me differently than He loves you.
Those differences in how He loves each of us prove how thoroughly our Shepherd knows his sheep. Personally, I needed to be shown how he would pursue me even as I ran from Him. I needed to know that he loved me despite the chains I had wrapped about myself. And I needed His love so that I would hold out my hands and allow him to remove my chains.
Jesus’ love may appear different to you because your needs are/were different than mine. They are different from that of your spouse or sibling or child or friend. Each member of the Church, each follower, each seeker can rest assured that Jesus will love him or her in the best way possible.
That is the promise of the New Covenant that Jesus established at the Last Supper. That is why we must release the Old Covenant made between Abraham and God to the nation of Israel. We do not need to live by the Law or any set of rules. All the previous rules and commandments are summed up in the New Covenant.
I challenge you, friends, to live a life of freedom in His love. A life that demands no checking of boxes or completing of lists, but only that we love God and others. As a result of the love we are given, we will also give of that love. We will extend grace and forgiveness because we have first received both for ourselves. We will treat others with respect and kindness because that is how our Lord has treated us.
The New Covenant does not result in lawlessness. It results in those who strive to do what is right in the eyes of God and thus to help and work with others in love and peace. Embracing this new thing and releasing the old brings joy and increases freedom.
As this year and this decade come to a close, I challenge you to live in the freedom of Christ’s love and to spread that love to all you meet. May peace and grace be with you! Even as love pursues you.