Taking a friend out for a driving lesson a few weeks ago brought to mind my own experience of learning to drive a car. Growing up on a farm, our first driving experience was with tractors and motorbikes and eventually cars as we made our way around the paddocks. But once I actually received my Learner Plates and attempted to drive out on the roads of Bega, I soon discovered that roads and paddocks are different. All was going along okay, until another car approached in the opposite direction and I freaked out, pulling off the side of the road to allow them to pass.Thankfully as my skills improved, so did my confidence in driving. Now, so many years later, when I go for a drive, I don’t have to really think about the mechanics of driving at all – it is now second nature.
It seems that God wants us to have a similar experience with his laws. At first we need to be given the structure and outlines of the law to shape us and guide us as we learn and grow in our knowledge of God and his ways – but the plan is that as we go along we begin to make these laws part of our being and they begin to be our second nature. It is unfortunate that so many people still think of the laws of God and the laws of the Church as merely external structures – which often make little sense – which are imposed upon us. But if I need a law to tell me not to kill the annoying person across the street, or to remind me that I should go to church on Sunday, or not to steal – then the laws have not yet become part of who I am.
The prophet Jeremiah provides us with a stunning insight into the heart of God – as he relates a most incredible promise. In the days to come, he tells us, the law of God will no longer be only written on tablets of stone, but now the Lord will personally write the laws of this new covenant deep within each one of us, so that we may truly know his way of life personally. It seems that even Jeremiah is so overwhelmed by this prophecy that he tells us four times in these verses that ‘It is the Lord who speaks.’
In the ministry of Jesus we discover what it looks like for the laws and covenant of God to be written on the heart of a human being – indeed the word becomes flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. What is even more amazing is that Jesus offers to feed us and allow the New Covenant to come to life in every one of us as we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, and his promise to bring this covenant very near becomes actually real when we eat his body and drink his blood and so receive the very life of God within us. Amazing promises and even more amazing fulfillment!
Recorded at St Paul’s (8am) 09’33”