The God of the Old Testament was very much an action-response sort of God. The story of Noah and the ark is a good examples of this view. Humankind sinned; God brought a flood and, with the exception of Noah and his family, wiped them all out. We tend to think in biblical proportions when we think of being punished by God for our infractions, whether they are huge and obvious or tiny and secret. Although we have the New Testament’s assurances of God’s love and forgiveness, we still look to the Old Testament to try to make sense of things when something bad happens that is beyond our understanding.
We don’t typically see such extremes today as those recounted in the Old Testament, but do you ever get the feeling that you’re paying for your sins in more subtle ways? Often it’s much easier to see those sins and their “payment” in the lives of others than it is to find examples in our own lives. “If she hadn’t run around with that crowd, she wouldn’t be in this mess,” we say about our neighbor.
But what about God’s love for us? Sometimes we get so wrapped up in thoughts of punishment that we forget about God’s love, a love that compelled God to send Jesus to atone for the sins we so often continue punishing ourselves and our neighbors for. Instead, let’s allow God to take care of the punishment, while we focus on remembering our covenant relationship with God and on working to live within that relationship.
- When you see a rainbow, do you do what God does, that is, stop and remember the covenant God made with Noah? Do you feel like God made that covenant with you, too?
- What was your upbringing like, as it related to what you were told about how God views your sins and mistakes? How do you feel about it now?
- Have you ever felt that God was giving you specific directions for doing God’s will? Did you act on those directions?
- Create your own private ceremony to renew your covenant with God. Take some time to be by yourself (in the bathroom if you have to!). Light a candle and meditate on God’s love for you. Then say a prayer, thanking God for loving you and reaffirming your desire to live in a covenant relationship with God.
- Discuss with your pastor the possibility of conducting a ceremony for your church as a family to renew its covenant with God. Volunteer to take part if your minister needs assistance in planning such an event. This ceremony will mean more to you if you take part in it, and your participation will enable the church to partake in a special event without placing another responsibility on your pastor.