In our study of the Bible, we ask ourselves, what is today’s message from God. Is there even a today’s message? If all is fulfilled and all are okay, what is the spiritual purpose we should pursue? To attempt to answer that question, I’d like to think about the concepts of reconciliation and transformation and how those relate to the two covenants.
Was reconciliation strictly between God and man or was it also between the chosen and the “unchosen”? See Ephesians 2: 11-17. What was the Old Testament feeling of Gentiles toward the Israelites- Fear and hatred? Why were the Jews feared and hated? Because of their “chosenness”? God was a respecter of persons in favor of the Jews. God drew a hard line between the chosen and the “unchosen”. Enmity between Jew and Gentile was inevitable. God called Abraham and his descendants out from the rest of the mankind and marked them with favor.
What happens when man is reconciled one to another. Reconciliation brings peace, the end of warfare and struggle. In our traditional religious mindset, reconciliation requires repentance and transformation. The unrighteous man must be transformed to righteousness and then our collective struggle against evil can cease. Do we ever think about the need for those who consider themselves already righteous to be transformed from their self-righteousness?
Is transformation only for non-covenant people or do covenant people need it too? What does self-righteousness mean but making one’s self righteous through what we believe, how we live, and the creed we adopt? That describes the apparent way of righteousness under the law. Do what’s law; obey me and be righteous. The special “chosenness” of the Old Covenant era is now past. See the account of Cornelius in Acts 10 and note how difficult it was for Peter to accept a Gentile as one of the “chosen”. The old distinctiveness was a source of enmity and strife. Now that source has been eliminated. As God has reconciled with mankind, the chosen and previously “unchosen” are no longer enemies. Religious strife and conflict have no place any more because that strife was simply symbolic of the Old Covenant relationship between God and mankind at large.
Both the old covenant people and their non-covenant neighbors need transformation to enjoy the fruits of the new covenant. Religious people generally view others as requiring transformation. If that could happen all would supposedly be well. They do not consider that they need to be transformed from a state of self-righteousness to a state of imputed righteousness, which is all of God and none of self. Thus the message of fulfilled righteousness is universal. To those who consider themselves to be unrighteous, the message is one of forgiveness and freedom from guilt despite our misdeeds past and future. The message for those who consider themselves as righteous is that the law of love is the rule of the day and though your righteousness is not dependent on any law, living by this rule will bring peace and reconciliation to all mankind.