Our church theme for 2024 is “Reclaiming our Identity as God’s People.” Jeremiah 31:33, ESV says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those, declares 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.”
I believe that the church is the greatest organism on earth. The church exists to represent who Jesus Christ is to the world. As Bill Hybels said, “The local church is the hope of the world.” Hybels spoke of the local church as the catalyst for communal transformation through the propagation and practical activity of the Gospel, but the universal church, which is the body of Christ indwelt by the Holy Spirit, shapes, devises, and establishes the mission and calling of the local church. The Prophet Jeremiah speaks by the Spirit of God that God would take the law and put it into the heart of his people.
The God of Covenant
We serve a God who reveals Himself as the self-existent creator of the world. In addition, he reveals Himself as the God of covenant. When God covenants, he makes a promise that he will fulfill the word he has spoken. God created covenants between himself and Noah, Abraham, David, Israel, and through his son, Jesus Christ. The Old Covenant law, which was summed up in the Ten Commandments, constituted the first covenant in total given by God, in which our sins were exposed, and the need for salvation was realized (Rom. 7:7-11; 8:3-4; 1 Tim. 1:9-10). But the Old Covenant was weak and unable to redeem humankind (Heb. 10:1-18). Therefore, God would establish a covenant that would be better and would cleanse the conscience of his people, allowing them to willingly follow God from a pure heart and motive (Gal. 3:10-14).
The God of Covenant will put his law in our hearts
Outward rules and regulations do not change hearts. Repeatedly, the Pharisees and Sadducees were corrected by Jesus because they emphasized following their traditions and made up rules that ignored the true spiritual intention of the law. If anything, forcing people to follow rules that they really don’t want to follow creates fear-based responses and bitterness. God wants us (as his people) to obey and follow him because we want to. He wants us to follow him because we love him from the heart. Our loving response of obedience to God’s word is not the result of coercion, fear tactics, or compulsion. Rather, it is because he has caused us to be born again to a living hope. When God saves us, he plants new desires consistent with his law within us. No longer do we want to lie, cheat, steal, commit sexually immoral acts, or covet as a lifestyle because we recognize that these acts are incompatible with God’s love.
God puts his law in our hearts by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, who is the third person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit abides in us, and we in him. Therefore, he “works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
He is our God and we are His People
As a result of God’s work in our hearts, he declares that he will be our God. This is the most profound idea we could ever ponder. God is our God. He belongs to us. We do not create God or fashion God after our liking and taste. God is who he is. He does not change. His nature and divine character remain the same. But he accommodates himself and intervenes in our world. He lives among us and reminds us of his love for us. He becomes our everything. He becomes our all in all. He becomes “for us wisdom from God, righteousness, holiness, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). Not only do we take possession of God, who becomes everything in our lives, but he takes possession of us. We are his children, and he takes care of us. He nurtures us. He strengthens us. He loves us. He provides for us. He leads us. We are his people. His name is on us. We bear the name: God’s People!
Therefore, let the church rise and reclaim our identity. Let us be assured of who we are and whom we belong to. When we become content with bearing the name “God’s People, ” we can truly transform our world, communities, families, and lives. God wants us to remember his sacrifice so we can bear his name. His Son, Jesus, took upon himself the curse of sin and died to it so that we might become the righteousness of God. Church, let’s be God’s people! We are not half-stepping or playing games with our high calling. We are living out what it means to be a person of God in the world, indwelled by the Spirit and having the laws of God written on our hearts, obeying from the heart.