New Covenant

NEW COVENANT

I was in a Bible Study recently and we were discussing Matthew 26 and the subject of the New Covenant came up.  In the process of discussion I piped up with one of my typical off the top of my head smart aleck type of remarks, “most Christians do not know what the New Covenant is”, and I said that Jesus gave us a New Covenant, that we should love one another as He loved us”.  I immediately sensed a room full of blank looks from the room full of Christians.  I was not the teacher, so I let the subject drop.  The teacher, Dr. Phil Bishop, said, yes, “A new commandment I give you that you should love one another, as I love you,” which is actually the accurate and literal quote.

Which reminds me, speaking of literality, at another point in the discussion, I related my recent visit with my Aunt, Joan McCulley, a lifelong and dedicated Roman Catholic, when I went with her and some of our family to Mass at the Paris, Illinois St. Mary’s Catholic Church.  Normally, when I attend a Catholic church, if I want to, I will just go up to receive communion, termed “the gifts” in Catholicism.  To me, that is a good term…  This time, however, on the way to church, being the provoking type of person I can be, (in a good way I hope); I asked my aunt if it would be okay if I took communion.  Now I already thought I knew the Catholic beliefs on this matter, having been raised Catholic myself, that only church members should take communion.  Also, I had in the past asked Fran Viselli, a friend who is a Catholic deacon and also on the Advisory Council of Circles of Peace with me, the same question when invited to his church and he stated, “Well they cannot refuse it”.  Therefore, I take communion in the Catholic Church if I want to; after all, I have never yet been “disfellowshipped” by the Catholic Church as some groups in Protestantism are wont to do to you if you do not agree with their doctrines or beliefs.

Back to my Aunt…..Aunt Joan answered my questions that no, I should not take it, because non-Catholics do not believe the bread and wine (or elements) are the actual body and blood of Jesus (transubstantiation).  She said if I would “come home” I could receive communion.  I told her I was coming home, right then and there, but I did not want to come “home” anywhere I could not eat.  :):) My sister, Janelle, also a lifelong Catholic, piped up that “those are just symbols”.  Then my Aunt and my sister (who takes communion in Protestant churches when she wants), got into a discussion about these matters…..

I did not explain all this in such detail to the class at Grace Church, but I briefly explained it and asked the question about the statement Jesus made, “This is my body, take of it and eat, and this is my blood, God’s New Covenant, poured out for many people, drink of it”.  I asked, “Is it real, as the Catholics believe, or is it just a symbol”?  This enticed some confusion and more discussion among us.

Well, what do you think?  Is it real?  Is it a symbol?  Could it be both?  Which is it?  Also what about the New Covenant, which Jesus says this is?  Is the New Covenant real?  Is the New Covenant just a symbol of ideals of Jesus that are really for another place and another time, in the future?  Is the New Covenant only for believers, or is it for everyone?  Should everyone believe they should love one another, as Jesus loved, or should only Christians love one another, and not others who are not Christians?  Possible clue…Did God so love the world, all of it, or just part of it?

I admit, after piping up about most all Christians, and hardly any of them actually know what the New Covenant is, that I was rusty on the subject myself and I needed to give more thought to the words that had just popped out of my mouth since I confused myself a little also.  After all, it was in the mid 1990’s that I addressed such matters extensively when the church I was in (and became a pastor of) struggled in a New Covenant transformation, having formerly believed all Christians, and all people for that matter, should adhere to the Old Covenant (the Ten Commandments for instance) as well as adhere to the New Covenant (which, by the way, we did not actually know what the New Covenant was back then).

Whadda ya mean the Ten Commandments are the Old Covenant, Cooper?

Ex 34:28

“28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant — the Ten Commandments.”

NIV

Many Christians do not know the Ten Commandments are the Old Covenant, especially not in Alabama, apparently.  Well then, we know the Old Covenant is at least real, written on stone, and all of that, but what about the New Covenant?  Is it real?

Speaking of commandments, the New Commandment Jesus gave us was this:  “A New Commandment (covenant?) I give you that you should love one another, as I have loved you.”  This covenant, this commandment is a gift, like the Catholics refer to the “elements” of bread and wine as “gifts”.  Jesus is said to have written it on our hearts this time, not on stone… Really?  Is this Covenant real to us?  We cannot really love one another, nor certainly can we love the enemies of our own selves unless we have this gift living in us.  I like to term this gift as being that the Spirit of Jesus has infected us.

It is real!

This is a real infection, not to make one sick, but to make one well.  It is an infection that we as Christians need to consider at this time of year, Christmas, when we give lip service to love, peace, non-violence and social justice for one or two days, then revert back to the default mode of our spiritual enemy of hatred, greed, selfishness, war, killing, etc. in many ways (now I do not say all ways).

I say these things to challenge us all, including my own self, to greater acts of love for each other and of love for our “enemies.” That this New Covenant, the very flesh and blood and spirit of Jesus which should really be living inside of us, caused by a Spiritually Divine and Spiritually real infection of our hearts and minds, should really be shared with all mankind in honor of Jesus, who loved us first and gave His life for us that we may live in an eternal kingdom now, where the lion and the lamb dwell together, where Blacks and Whites, Orientals and all humans live together, where nations live together and mothers and children live in managers, and homeless live on streets, with no place to lay their heads, but human beings smile at them, and tell them they love them.  Why don’t we, the next time we receive the “gifts” (communion, The Lord’s Supper, etc.) believe they are real.  They are meant to be shared as an offering from God to us.  A New Covenant, not in any way dependent on us or our own agreement with it (Jeremiah 31), but a Covenant and way of life and way to live peacefully and nonviolently in love for each other,  with one another.  It is all about God, all about a divine being living in  mankind, and in Jesus, incarnate, one might say, and in us, and celebrated by Christians at Christmas.

May our celebration of this Covenant, of this Communion and Love for one another, last longer, forever.  May it be real.  May it begin now, if it has not already begun, in your life.

Love & Peace,

John Cooper

https://jcooperforpeace.org/

About jcooperforpeace
Peacemaker in Fellowship Engaged in Active Nonviolence and Social Justice

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