Life in Christ
The service of Admission of Catechumens (adult candidates for Baptism and Confirmation) asks the important question, “Friends, what do you seek?” The bold reply is, “We seek life in Christ!” – it is a brief response that holds an eternity of implication. Each Lent and Holy Week journey asks this question of us anew, and we respond anew.
What is it that you seek this Lent, this Holy Week? What are your expectations of resurrection and new life this Easter?
New life, resurrected life, life in Christ: what are the implications? And what are the foundations on which it is built?
Jesus says in Matthew 5:17 (CJB), “Don't think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete”. Most English translations follow the Greek by translating the Hebrew word Torah as Law. However, Torah is better translated as Teaching. This gives us a possible different perspective on the 10 Commandments: rather than being Law it is Teaching. The 10 Commandments teach the principles on which we build our community as God’s people, and they become the foundation of our “Life in Christ”.
The 10 Commandments are a teaching given in the context of God’s call to his people to be different from the society that surrounds them. Moses encourages the Israelites to observe the Commandments as they are about to enter into the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership, so that, “... this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’” (Deuteronomy 4:5-6; TNIV). The call to be different is highlighted by phrase in the Commandments, “You shall not ...”. You shall not be like the people around you, you shall not steal like them, you shall not give false evidence like them. BE DIFFERENT!
The question of wrong-doing, breaking the teachings, comes to mind. In today’s world sin has become equated with being caught out, rather than wrong-doing; it is often equated with sex. However, in terms of the 10 Commandments, sin is conforming to a society where wrong-doing is acceptable, deforming ourselves from the principles of Godly community. The 10 Commandments say little about stealing in and of itself; the Commandments highlight that what is wrong is that someone claiming to be a member of God’s people, God’s community, is allowing themselves to be formed and shaped by a society in which stealing (or corruption, or ...) is the norm.
The journey of Lent and Holy Week becomes a journey of re-alignment. We renounce our formation by a society that seeks to deform us from the principles of a God-focused community. We return to the norms of the Christian faith community, responding to the call to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;’ and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’” (Luke 10:27; TNIV). This is a journey of re-alignment, not removal. We are not called to extract ourselves from society, but to reform and recreate ourselves within society, and to respond differently: compelled not by the norms of society, but by the norms of the Christian faith and the principles of God-focused community. Our “life in Christ” becomes a new centre, for ourselves, our communities, our society and our world. We become, again, the light and the hope that we are called by God to be.
Friends, what do you seek?