Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 119:49-72 (Morning)
Psalm 49,  (Evening)
The Blood of Christ
Some folks believe every word in the Bible literally as the inerrant truth from God. Others say the Scriptures are the (sometimes flawed) response of mankind to their experience of God. Most people believe only some parts of it, but not other parts, and then must decide which ones, and why. Some parts seem inconsequential, while others hold Life in the balance — like today’s explication in Hebrews 9 of blood sacrifice.
Do you believe in Original Sin? Is it Biblical, spelled out clearly in Genesis and Romans? Or was it a teaching of the church generated years after the Bible was written? Was blood sacrifice – of both Old Testament and also of Christ – really required by God, or did humans interpret that God must require it?
Whether Original Sin was first caused by Adam, or was a theological construct of humans trying to understand how to please God, either way, it ended up putting people in the early church – and Christians ever since – in an intractable bind. Sin either caused, or else was perceived to cause, an untenable alienation from God, creating an unsolvable problem. Once Original Sin came into play, and humans seemed inherently unacceptable to God, people were stuck there, no matter whether it had come from God, or from humans.
I’m enjoying this idea: it might not matter! Because, fortunately, whether sacrifices and oblations were really God’s requirement for covering the Sin of humans, or were simply humans’ idea of an atoning sacrifice that God might accept, either way: Jesus fixed it! Either way, he broke the logjam and made imperfect humanity acceptable to the perfect God. If Sin really was an obstacle, Christ removed it. If Sin was “merely” mankind’s story, Jesus rewrote it, revealing God’s grace and forgiveness. Either way, he allowed people to escape the trap and to stand before God without fear of condemnation.
And, either way, the church had become totally tangled in and dependent on legalistic, ceremonial, and ineffectual religious ritual and Law that was only flesh-deep. We needed to make the next step: to transcend the notion of avoiding Sin because it was against the Law, and to grow into a righteousness based in our hearts, and in Love.
We so often remark that when we step from the Old Testament to the New, we begin to experience the God of Love, rather than of Judgment. But notice that, as we look at ourselves, we could say the same! Christ’s new blood covenant allowed not only God, but also us, to cease dwelling on the notion of Judgment, and to focus instead on Love. So our behavior toward God is transformed in the exact same way we perceive God’s countenance toward us as transformed: we too are now free to offer unconditional Love.
Written by Ralph Ellis
“Ellis” has been a member of St. Paul’s since he and his wife Judi Neal moved to Fayetteville in ’09, and usually attends the 11:00 service.