Old vs New. . .
I've become a bit more involved with God and His endeavors around, and through, us humans.
Our men's group has been concentrating on introducing the story of Jesus, His sacrifices on our part, and our human reconciliation with God to people we've just met and may not know anything about God, Jesus, or Christianity in general.
One of the essential fundamentals we want to initially express is the difference the way things happen here on earth amongst us humans and the way things happen in heaven, according to the Bible.
I've come up with the following comparison. I'll post it here, and you tell me whether I'm on the right track or out in right field... (wink).
On earth, our accepted behaviors are generally governed by laws, regulations, and just plain common decency. These guidelines are initially codefied in documents indentifying the spirit of the law in order to introduce the theory and reasons for the demand to change/alter the behavior of a large group of people. Once the laws are on the record, they are handed to the official authoritative representatives of the government for implementation and enforcement. These officials, in an attempt to be thorough and not to be accused of slacking off, often resort to the letter of the law during their enforcement routine. They make the enforcement of a lenient law more stringent. Humans begin to realize that the spirit of the law may not look anything like the actual implementation of the letter of the law by the authorized representatives responsible for the enforcement. Ultimately, what starts out as a caution and encouragement to behave properly to avoid difficulties in a society where everyone is expected to behave properly for the betterment of the whole ends up as a punitive environment in which any deviation from the letter of the law is not permitted and summarily and severely dealt with to avoid repetition.
In the spiritual realm, the Old Testament brought the codefied Word of God which the earthly representatives quickly implemented as the stringent letter of the law. Organizations and groups that interpreted the law and enforced the law above and beyond what was intended included such groups as the Sanhedrin, Pharisees, and, more controversially, the Essenes. In the New Testament, when The Savior arrives to fulfill the promises of the Old Testament and announces that He will bring the spirit of the law to bear for all mankind, many expect that He will also introduce some leniency into what has been the stringent guidelines of the ruling classes. They also expect that Jesus will become the ruler under this new world order immediately through an armed c0nflict - or some just as effective spiritual revolution.
Much to the surprise of many, Jesus brings us the redemption and salvation as promised through His crucification but also brings us the news of the final reconciliation with our Heavenly Father as an intentional act of submission and obedience on our part. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus delineates the difference between the old letter of the law and the new spirit of the law. . . much to the chagrin of many... and especially to the ruling classes.
In spite of the fact that Jesus brings us the Holy Spirit to help us deal with this new spirit of the law, many can't quite grasp this notion of God compelling us to seek, find, and obey Him in everything we do in order to reconcile ourselves to Him...
In the worldly view, the more we understand about the spirit of the law, the easier it becomes for us to develop a behavioral pattern that will eliminate many difficulties in our environment and associations we establish with others...
In the spiritual view, the more we understand about the spirit of the law, the easier it is for us to see how fruitless it is to adhere merely to the letter of the law, and the more difficult it is to live up to the spirit of the law without a sincere and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. . .
We get exactly the opposite of what we expect when we depend on our own earthly experience.
So it is with all the adventures the Heavenly Father has for us . . . it'll never be what we expect, it'll never be when we expect, but it'll always be exciting, life-changing, and certainly fulfilling... (wink)