Jesus brought a paradigm shift which has yet to be fully embraced by many in Western Christianity. Many live lives defined by Old Testament rules and laws. But Jesus redefined how to interpret the Old Testament (Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7).
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17)
This was a sea change from an Old Testament perspective. Prior to Jesus, getting to heaven was all about behavior. And the religious leaders in Jesus’ time made a public show of following religious law to illustrate how perfectly righteous they were. They judged and condemned anyone who they deemed were less righteous than themselves.
From the initial Ten Commandments, men of wisdom created no less than 633 rules for the Hebrew people to follow. The culture was one of condemnation and punishment. And if we believe in the literalness of the Old Testament, no one had seen God except Adam and Eve. But then came Jesus.
When the Real Enemy magnifies our hatred, our anger and our willingness to accuse others, we need only to look at Jesus. Did Jesus care about religious rules and laws? No, he defied them; he broke the Sabbath in order to feed his disciples. He “worked” on the Sabbath in order to heal people. He cared about love, grace and mercy first and foremost.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
When Jesus said this to the disciple Thomas, this “coming to” was not simply a belief; it was the ability to see the Father through the face of Jesus. It was the readiness to know the Father’s heart through the compassion of Jesus. It was the passion to open his mind to the Father’s wisdom and understanding through the words of Jesus. It was the choice to accept the Father’s Spirit through the grace and love of Jesus.
In doing so, Thomas became newly born. In doing so, we become newly born. We allow our relationship with Christ to change the way we think. We begin to focus on the thing that matters: our relationship with God, allowing Him to transform our heart and mind.
Romans 12:1-2 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to become a living sacrifice to God because of all he has done for you—the kind he will find sacred and acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you from the inside out by changing the way you think. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wants from you, and will allow God to bring out the best in you and develop maturity in you.
Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of thinking and living has disappeared. A new way of thinking and living has come into existence. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed us and restored our relationship with Him, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
This new way of thinking is already available to us. It’s inside us whenever we choose to embrace it. We only need to surrender to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, the compassion of Jesus, the unsurpassable grace and lavish love of our Father. It is a receiving which is sometimes difficult, but bestows a freedom God wishes us to seize and cherish.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew through His grace and love in Christ Jesus, so we can join Him in the work He does, the good things he planned for us long ago, to save the world through Him. (Ephesians 2:10)