A Culture of Life

Posted: June 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

In my last blog I talked about Jesus’ teaching about the law. I’m working my way through what has become known as the Sermon on the Mount, (recorded for us in Matthew chapter 5), and immediately after giving his summary about the law Jesus began to talk about murder. “You’ve heard it said, you shall not murder,” he explained, “but I say to you….”

What Jesus proceeded to do, was to draw  a picture of the extreme opposite of murder – extreme love.

In an effort to understand what Jesus was saying I’ve put together some diagrams that may help.  The law that Moses handed down from Mt Sinai said very clearly, you shall not murder.

THE LAW GRAPHIc1

The fence around that statement is very clear and the people in Moses’ day got the message pretty clearly.

But in time people started to knock down the fence by coming up with ideas that would help us to address what we saw as problems with this very finite law. After the fall of Rome in 410AD Christianity came up with the ‘just war’ theory to solve the problem of how to kill people if there was sound justification for war. People found reason to support capital punishment, and other laws were introduced to soften the harshness of the statement: You shall not murder.

Then we discovered that we could change our language to soften the law a little. We can talk about abortion, euthanasia, or assassination, as slightly softer ways of describing the act of killing. Ultimately we began to argue that that old law was so broken that we could just ignore it altogether.

THE LAW GRAPHIC2.jpg

As Jesus was talking to his disciples, he explained that this old law would eventually reach its fulfilment. That time came when Jesus died on the cross. That momentous event marked the fulfilment of Moses law.  What came into effect after that was the law of Christ. The next diagram shows that Jesus came and established new boundaries.

He didn’t tell us to ignore the law and become lawless. He didn’t tell us to go back to the old law with the broken down fences. He introduced a new law, which is the law of love. Here’s the diagram to represent this change.

THE LAW GRAPHIC3

Christ’s law was completely different from the old law because it focussed on the sanctity of human life. It recognised that everyone is created in the image of God and God loves each person with an inexhaustible love. Murder is no longer a relevant way of dealing with people we don’t like, because a new law is in place.

Jesus explained it by saying you don’t even call a person a fool and if someone has something against you, go and sort it out. Jesus’ law was the very opposite of murder, it was a law of extreme love.

Instead of contemplating murder, the role of the person who follows Jesus is to be a voice who lovingly and directly speaks to the worth and value of life; and actively works toward cultivating a culture of life.

I wonder what the culture of life will look like?

This is the fourth in a series I am presenting at Maida Vale Baptist Church. Read the first here, the second here and the third here. You can also listen to the whole series of messages on podcast here

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