As 2016 is now upon us and we consider the passing of old into new, and what that means, I thought I’d share some of my own thoughts but also some Scripture passages that might inspire some thoughts and perhaps a re-awakening of ideas about how you might consider your own spiritual renewals and the renewal of your particular faith.
From a Christian perspective, the first Scripture passage that strikes out at me is from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews. I find it in Hebrews 8:13.
“In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”
Though it is a simple verse, it has a profound impact on me personally as a transgender individual faced with religious-based criticisms and persecution. For the larger LGBT community-at-large, I find Hebrews 8:13 to be a very profound and impactful assurance that the old ways of thinking and the old laws in which people have strived to live by are rendered obsolete. There is a new order being established and a new path and new way for us as human beings to commune with and make relationships with the Almighty.
For anyone on God’s Earth, Hebrews 8:13 lets us know that there is a new promise being made between us and our Creator. There is a new outlook for our lives here on Earth but also for our spiritual well-being in the future to come. The customs and traditions and laws we have been governed by up to the coming of Christ are now obsolete; and the laws have been fulfilled and the condemnation and guilt of not living up to the demands and high expectations of that old Mosaic Law is taken away.
For Christians, the coming of Jesus Christ is the establishing of a whole new relationship between us and God through the presence of Jesus, His only begotten son. Jesus is the new means by which we can connect with our Creator and for our Creator to connect in real tangible ways with each of us.
Prior to the coming of Jesus, God reached the people through the prophets– like Isaiah, Elisha, Elijah, Moses, and so on. The people had to provide daily devotional sacrifices with meticulous and exacting adherence to various rituals and laws in order to establish their purity and righteousness and to prove their worthiness to be God’s chosen people.
This all changes with the coming of Jesus, who lets us know through his ministry and teachings and sermons and parables that God works through him and through the Holy Spirit– and God works through us as we are touched by that Holy Spirit and/or are inspired by Jesus.
God is no longer an abstract concept for the 20th and 21st century mind when you consider how God works. If we only open our eyes to the good works and impressive impact we as Christians have on our neighborhoods and communities and the people around us, you can see that it is US who makes religion very real for others and it is God working through us that brings God and the world closer together. We see it and are a witness to charity, compassion, love, kindness, mercy, and forgiveness– especially in environments where there seems to be so little charity, compassion, forgiveness, or love. When we are inspired to do good works, we are enabling God to work with us and for us.
What is new about this new covenant and new promise is that God is becoming more present in our lives and unlike before, God is reaching out to all of us regardless of our impurities and sins and flaws and quirks and so on. Jesus, who is willing to pay the ultimate price for our shortcomings and flaws and sins, is opening the doors for us and welcoming us all into communion with God. There are no strings attached and no fine print. We only need to believe that there is a force greater than all of us and that force is the power of God and God has sent us His son as the guide who opens the doors to our ultimate eternal salvation.
For the new year, I invite folks to make a simple, modest resolution– one that I think we can all live up to and stick with. I invite folks to resolve to commit to doing at least one good deed daily. Big or small, a simple act of kindness or forgiveness or charity or compassion towards others is an act of fulfilling our part of the new promise presented to us through Jesus. If we seek to make this world a better place one good deed a day, it should make an impact and make a difference for we are many and good deeds inspire more good deeds and our actions can invite others to act with us accordingly.