I don’t usually start these weekly blogs with quotations, especially not extended ones from the Bible. Today is an exception. This quotation, attributed to the Prophet (not the bull frog) Jeremiah, is one featured in Lutheran churches on Reformation Sunday, which generally occurs around Hallowe’en. The passage is often referred to as “the new covenant between God and God’s people.” Here goes:
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
In her applied-ethics training, my wife, Dr. Cedar Barstow, talks about ethics from the inside out, not from the outside—or rules’ side—in. I think Jeremiah’s idea is analogous. The Almighty clearly needs to do a major recall and come up with Humanity 2.0, a version hard-wired to know God in the sense of cognoscere, not scire. We clearly need to be re-wired to do what the world’s religions call on us to do. What does it mean for God’s Kingdom to come on earth? (Yes, Virginia, I remember that our word utopia comes from the Greek words meaning “no place.”) Jesus actually tells us: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” If a critical mass of humanity really could find and follow the Yellow Brick Road of the Divine Will, there would be peace on earth: harmony, cooperation, sharing. Everyone would have enough. There would be no have-nots, dictators, gulags, or wars. No foreign troops massed on the border of another country, as today.
Okay. Well and good. But what do we do in the meantime, until “after those days”? Jesus suggests an answer in famous verses from Matthew (7:7-8). He advises us to pester God in the A-S-K formula: ask … seek … knock. The German children’s prayer says it all: Lieber Gott, Mach mich fromm, dass ich in den Himmel komm’.” “Dear God, make me good, so into Heaven go I would.” I guess asking means building a little heliport inside ourselves so that God the Chief Surgeon can land in the Divine ‘copter and do the job. Okay. I’m working on it. Want to join me?