It is often difficult to understand the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. Many have a tough time finding the Gospel in O.T. with its heavy emphasis on the myriad of rules and regulations that cover nearly every aspect of life. By the same token, some people find it hard to understand how the law relates to the freedom of the gospel as it is expressed in the N.T. Jesus addresses the confusion in the portion we call the “Beatitudes” when He says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets: I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
One commentator likens the transition from the “Old” to the “New” to that of a birth. In the womb, the child is protected on all sides by the mother’s body, which acts not unlike the O.T. legal code. It is nurtured through the umbilical cord and is able to swim with some degree of freedom in the amniotic fluid. But, while it is bounded on all sides and completely dependent on the mother, it is also separate with its own unique features, limbs, fingers, toes, and independent brain and nervous system, and its own heart and circulatory system.
Birth unveils a new realm of freedom and opportunity. The womb may have been confining, but it was a lot more comforting than the real of the earth and sky. Infants often startle themselves with this newfound freedom as they thrash about in the air. They cry until they can be wrapped, comforted and held close, where they can feel the beat of a heart and a world that expects less of them.
We are in good company when we think of the Christian life in terms of a birth. Early in the first century, St. Paul wrote to the congregation in Rome: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth up to the present time.” (Romans 8:22) Living in Christ is a challenge and a struggle because it requires us to share ourselves, and our love, in a world that is ever growing and changing.
Through Jesus Christ, we are a new creation. That new life gives us the ability to cope in an everchanging world. The legalist needs a world that is uncomplicated and static. A world where the rules always fit. The legalist needs to keep the world from changing, but that of course, is neither possible nor desirable. The world is forever changing and cannot return to the womb.
We can make this corner of existence a little more livable. We can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Through baptism, God as placed into our hearts all that we need to make this world a better place. All right! So, the world is messy, we can clean it up.