One magnificent difference between religion and the New Covenant of the New Testament is who leads us as the children of God. Followers of religion allow rules, laws and behavior teachings to determine how they live out their lives and practices.
The NT introduces us to the New Covenant that Jesus established between people and our heavenly Father. What makes the New Covenant so new is the reliance on the lead of the Holy Spirit, not rules, practices, rituals, traditions. The Holy Spirit becomes the leader of the children as we live out the Kingdom values and ideals. We call ourselves spirit led.
Being spirit led is a big idea because people love solid, unchangeable rules and procedures. Listening to the nuances of the Holy Spirit requires being in touch with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit may move you to action this time, but not next time. Each situation in life is different, and a blanket rule or behavior practice does not always fit the situation.
Look at a simple example. Jesus teaches us to go-the-extra-mile. We do most of the time. A neighbor is in need and we jump in and help all we can. What if a terrorist approaches you with a machete in his hands and he asks you to go a mile into the jungle with him? You might go, but I’m not! You might reason Jesus told us to, and you foolishly march off to your death following the lead of a behavior teaching. The Holy Spirit will have a big job convincing me to walk into the jungle.
This brings up the interwoven topic of how to understand Jesus teaching. Because we are Spirit-led, we do not need endless rules and behavior teachings. We are set free from the rule-driven religion. Jesus teaches us through storytelling, metaphor, and his own personal example. What Jesus is teaching is concepts. We receive a Kingdom concept and then allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in the application under the varying circumstances.
In our above example of “going the extra mile,” we learn the concept that Father’s love is endless. When we reach out to help someone we don’t do the minimum, we do all we can and bless the person in need. Each opportunity to serve is different, and the Holy Spirit will lead us to what we should do. That may require laying down our lives to save another, or, refuse to help at all because we sense the situation is a scam, and the person is a crook.
Next week we will deal with Jesus’ concept teaching in better detail. Just remember, a “big Idea” in the New Testament is the reality of being Spirit-led, not rule led, or behavior pattern led. We are people who follow the Holy Spirit’s lead, thus Christianity is not a religion, but a spiritual walk with the creator Himself.
Kim Wenzel is a local Open Doors USA ministry representative who speaks in churches and groups about praying for the persecuted church. For more information, persons interested may contact Wenzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-919-1490. He pastors Faith Church of Grove on East Highway 10.