The Law, as much as we look upon it through the eyes of those under grace, was the first big step in the divine plan to undermine the systems of evil. The first step was Abraham – God came to Abraham in a way that totally disregarded the religious practices of the day.
You can skip this paragraph if you’ve ever watched Rob Bell’s ‘The God’s Aren’t Angry’ – and if you’ve not seen it, it comes highly recommended…
When Abraham was a young man, he would have learned the ways of his father. He would have learned how to work the land, how to care for the cattle, how to treat slaves, how to do everything, including how to worship the gods. You wanted it to rain? You gave this much of that crop to this god. You needed sun? This god needs this kind of crop this regularly and in these amounts.
That’s just how things worked. The religion of the day said that you appeased the Gods and they poured out their favour on you and your crops.
Then God spoke to Abraham, and God said “leave your father’s house”. That didn’t just mean leave the building. It meant leave behind the way of life that you know. It meant to start again with no assumptions about the world around you, relying on some sort of voice that claims to be a god. And everyone back then knew that gods didn’t speak. That would be crazy.
This God takes the religions of the day and turns them on their head. He looks at the corrupt systems and says ‘no’.
A little while later God’s own way of communicating with his people is in jeopardy. The Pharisees have created a systematic abuse of a process God put in place to help people realise that they could live in harmony with God and with each other. So God disrupts religion again.
The system? sacrifice. The disruption? Jesus.
You can’t sacrifice if God has already made the biggest sacrifice of all (the firstborn son being a powerful image in the culture of the day). So if you can’t sacrifice, what can you do? Simply believe. That’s not a religion, that’s just a belief. No processes, no methods, no systems, no set prayers, no alpha courses, no welcome packs, no mass, no confessionals, just belief.
So we have a God who undermines religion itself, casting aside the need for anything more than believing that we are loved. Let’s fight the temptation to build a religion around that and instead learn to live in the reality that we are all loved and accepted by God.