(this is the actual sermon on Deuteronomy etc)
The purpose of life is union with God, to love God and love people. Divine love changes our hearts, it purifies them and makes them holy. Love makes us like God, because as we read in 1 John “God is love,” and “if we love one another then God abides in us.” (1 John 3&4). Elsewhere Jesus says love not just friends, but also foes (Mt 5:43-48; Luke 10:29 Good Samaritan).
Deuteronomy says that God gives the Law so that it will go well in the land and the people can multiply. The law to love God with all of our being is the only path to life. Love allows the law to open us to the Kingdom of God. When people in a society love one another there can be peace and prosperity. When we love God the Law can conform us to His will and makes us holy. Without love, as Paul said, the law becomes nothing.
The great obstacle to such loving obedience is our doubt and fear. Perfect love casts out all fear, and doubt and fear draw us away from God. We wounded humans seek to protect ourselves. Each time we are hurt it can compound the doubt and fear, often in subtle ways. People disappoint us, and sometimes God does too, so repentance and forgiveness become more difficult. Love can grow cold.
To deal with life’s pain, our defense mechanism is to protect the heart. In the Bible this is call a ‘hard heart,’ literally it means a callus. That callus is the ego self, who we pretend to be. As the heart gets harder it becomes less trusting and loving. Each night the news publicize the words and deeds of human egos and hard hearts. We blame and demonize others, and see no need to repent or forgive. A Godless, loveless society produces escalating conflicts.
In ancient Egypt, Pharaoh did not trust the Hebrew people and feared them, so he made them slaves. Ironically, he caused the very thing he feared. God responds to the Hebrew cries and frees them. He saves them, and in the process Egyptian suffered devastating losses. Those who would use power to crush others always learn that control by fear fails eventually. God rules by love and He gives Israel the Law so they can live well in the land and multiply. The Law is for this world and is given to produce blessing.
The Law can instruct, but it has no power to save. Jesus saves because in Him God takes the wounded human heart and the human sins and He heals and forgives. This is the power of love, the power of healing mercy. Jesus shares in our suffering and invites us to trust, to love and to stop being afraid. Those who understand the power of love are near God’s kingdom. Love makes us holy. Love is theosis union with God. Love is not a tool of control, it is a surrender of self to God and one another. Jesus commands that we do it.