Hundreds of years ago, within the four walls of the ivory tower of the University of Cambridge, Isaac Newton took the world by storm with his profound yet but simple third law of motion-For every action, there must be a reaction. The relevance is not only to science but to life. We must admit that long before Newton’s scholastic articulation of this principle, everyday life has run on it. The evidence abounds everywhere. You press buttons on your TV remote, keys on your computers, touch-button on your phones and you wait for corresponding reactions or responses on display. It is just the way things work. Why complain about the outputs, when you can make desired changes to input?
Basically, among so many disparities between how God related with man before and after Jesus, one difference actually stands out. The law of Moses wanted men to ’act’ on what God wanted, but Christ only wanted men to ‘’react’’ to what he did. The law asked men to do, but grace asked men to respond. The inability of us to perceive the new covenant in the blood of Jesus in this understanding is what is responsible for the joyless and defeatist Christianity that has become so prevalent. Even the unbelievers are not interested in such poor representation of what Christ died for.
Christ The Actor, Church The Reactor.
According to Ephesians 5:25, the relationship of Christ Jesus to His church was simply compared to that of a man and his wife. You don’t really need to be an expert in marital affairs to know that women by nature are predominantly reactive. Women, by design, naturally receive and respond. This is obvious in their sexuality, emotions and behaviours. A very slight change in a man’s disposition can create a magnified or exaggerated reaction from his wife. Men have often wondered why their wives have been overly sensitive to just minor issues. On the other hand, men are very poor at responses or reactions. Men were built to act. A woman does a new hairstyle, changes something about her make up, makes changes to how she dresses, goes at length to do something different and expects to evoke the right response from her husband. Imagine the frustration when she is not getting the right reaction. The pattern of operation of Christ and the church is clearly seen in the makeup of a man and his wife. Men are actors, women are reactors or responders. A man can easily set the tempo of his home by taking active steps in love, the more his wife sees it, the more she falls for him. Of course, we are not to be bothered by the unnatural exceptions in the children of disobedience who practice lawlessness and acts of sexual perversion by distorting these roles.
Old Covenant Says Act, New Covenant Says React
Under the old covenant, it states ‘’Love the lord your God with all your heart………’’ (Deut 6:5, Luke 10:27, Matt 22:37). You might be wondering how could that instruction be under the ‘’old covenant’’ when Jesus himself taught it in the Gospels. Well, if you have been following this blog, we already established that Jesus was born and ministered under the old covenant and the new covenant did not start until he died according to Galatians 4:4 and Hebrews 9:16
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law. (Galatians 4:4 ASV)
For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. (Hebrews 9:16)
So, under the old covenant, you are called to act- that is to take initiative to love God. Well, man by nature is selfish and only thinks of himself. So, that instruction at its best puts pressure on men. As soon as they heard it, they felt condemned. I don’t really care how many times you hear that in or out of the church, it would generate the same result of guilt. But what does the new covenant state? .
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sin ( 1 John 4:10 ASB)
We love, because He first loved us. ( 1 John 4:19 ASB)
I don’t know about you. But these scriptures right there blew me out and laid me bare. That scripture destroyed every bogus, hypocritical and prideful attempt at taking the initiative to love him when it stated ‘’not that we loved God’’. It then states that he loved us first and then we responded to his love. He acted in ‘’love’’ so we could ‘’react’’ in love. Look at the statement– ‘’loved us first’’. The word ‘’first’’ is saying we did not take the initiative. And we would not take the initiative any longer. We are not an ‘’active partner’’ in this enterprise. We are the passive collaborator or responder and we need to see ourselves that way or else we are in for a defeat.
If you think you sense a lack of passion or love for the lord, that is an issue that needs to be dealt with. It would be great to be fervent in the spirit as spiritual slothfulness in these last days is a recipe for disaster as the evil days are here. However, It matters the way you are attempting to revive your passion or zeal for the lord. You could end up in the ditch if you give room to the enemy due to ignorance. If you want to express your love for the lord, you don’t go about it by trying harder or better still to be ‘’active’’ in your attempt to love him more. Attempts at jumping from one church or spiritual activity to another or even praying for more of God’s love in your heart, would at best yield a roller coaster result. Up today and down tomorrow. That puts you at the active centre. You would ultimately fail and keep failing. That was how God related to men under the old covenant so that they could be condemned enough to receive grace. The reason why some married couples are often at loggerheads is because of this misconception. Some men want their wives to ‘ACT’ first in submission.
Look at Ephesians 5:33
Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (KJV)
Who was mentioned first—‘The man’. The man, who is the actor, was supposed to love while the woman was supposed to respond in respect. This was why the man’s responsibility to take the initiative was accentuated in being mentioned first. The woman was then asked to ‘see’ that she respects her husband. She has to see his love. In Ephesians 5:32, we are reminded that this reference to a man and his wife is simply an allegory of Christ and the church.
Ephesians 1: 16 shows us the Apostle Paul labouring for the Ephesian church in prayer. He kept asking that their hearts would be opened…… to know… to see. There is a lot of spiritual sense in that. How do you react to what you are not seeing, feeling or hearing? We could paraphrase Newton’s 3rd Law like this–Don’t worry about the reaction. It must surely happen as long as the action is in place. If you see christ’s love, you would react in love to and for him. The Pauline prayer in Ephesians 1:16-19 should be our daily mantra to walk as overcomers over the mess of the flesh, sin, the devil and the world.
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. ( 1 John 3:16 KJV)
See the word -‘perceive’. We need to always see this love. This is what we need to be praying about to see it according to Ephesians 1:16. Only then can we respond in love to the brethren without feeling guilty or condemned even when we fail at times. This approach is failure-proof in setting us on the course of daily victory? Read 2 corinthians 5:14
For the love of Christ controls us, …………….(NLT)
For the love of Christ overmasters us, ……(Weymouth New Testament)
As we see and perceive that love, we become constrained, controlled and mastered by it, We then realise, It is not about us, we are only called to respond to it.