In this series:
Who is God? The Secret of the New Covenant
I've begun noticing a sort of central theme throughout the New Testament, a concept that seems to undergird most of the basis of the New Covenant. That theme is obvious, yet obviously a unique realization that has far-flung impact. That theme is:
God is Spirit.
Simple, yet subtle. As Jesus said in John 4, God is spirit, so those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth. Let's follow his argument:
1) God is spirit
2) God is primarily concerned with spiritual things
3) God is not concerned with physical things like where the temple is located
4) Worship that God will care about must involve spiritual things, like a person's mind and heart
5) True worshippers must worship God in their spirits, in sincerity
6) The outward actions of temple worship are irrelevant to God
Paul uses this concept as well. God is spirit, so he doesn't distinguish between the various "races" of humanity. He cares about what's inside, not what's outside. God is spirit, so he doesn't see any difference between male and female, Jew and gentile, slave and free. All God sees is the heart.
There's more. Jesus applied the concept to religious authorities. God is spirit, so he doesn't need humans to mediate his presence. Therefore, we should not allow humans to be our "teachers", because we have one teacher; we should not allow humans to be our "masters", because we have one master; we should not allow humans to be our "fathers", because we have one father. Part of the New Covenant, as explained in Hebrews, is that no one will need to be a "teacher" for others, because ALL will know God.
Hebrews also brings out another facet of this concept. The blood of bulls and goats, it points out, cannot take away sin. Why? Because God is spirit, and cares nothing for physical blood. As Psalms points out, these bulls and goats are his anyway. What matters is a true sacrifice of spirit, a person submitting themselves to God. That is what Romans 12:1 requires of Christians, and that is EXACTLY what Jesus did. Jesus' physical blood did not cleanse people from sin; Jesus did not physically take his blood to heaven to offer it on an alter (as Hebrews symbolically states); we are never literally washed by Jesus' blood. No; the blood Jesus took to heaven, the blood which purifies us, the sacrifice that takes away the sins of the world, was Jesus' humble submission to God on the cross. It was truly a spiritual sacrifice.
There is much more here. But now we can see that Paul's opposition to racism, Jesus' opposition to religious hierarchy, the New Testaments' emphasis on spiritual worship, Paul's declaration that male and female are alike to God, and Jesus' approval of all foods, were not just haphazard changes or teachings. They all connect to one central thought, one central realization.
eschatology, theology, religion, spirituality, jesus, christ, god, new testament, new covenant