Jan 6, 2011

Church, What Connects Us - Jesus Christ Ought to be Greater than What Separates Us - Our Difference

This is a blog entry I feel really uncomfortable about.

I am doing my daily devotional reading and everything's going perfectly fine. And then, BAM! God just disrupts and disturbs my day.

You all know the story of Jesus healing on the Sabbath in Luke 6. The story begins with the Pharisees getting upset with Jesus because his disciples are rubbing grain and eating the kernels on the Sabbath day. Then the Pharisees are looking for a reason to speak badly of Jesus. As Jesus is teaching, there was a man who shows up with shriveled hands. Of course, it's the Sabbath. And the Pharisees are watching Jesus like hawks to see if Jesus will heal this man.

Because, healing is apparently work, like rubbing the grains for food was work, and everyone knows you're not supposed to work on the Sabbath.

Of course, Jesus heals the man and because Jesus knows what the Pharisees were thinking, Jesus asks them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?"

The reason why this passage is so disconcerting is because there is Phariseeism in me.

I cannot help but wonder how many times I have, in trying to honor God by keeping his commands I have instead neglected the good - to be merciful, to be gracious, to be welcoming, to save a life and not destroy it.

The way some evangelicals talk, I cannot help but wonder if we are not the Pharisees. Instead of seasoning our talk, our views, our understanding, and our relating with those with whom we disagree with love, grace, mercy, and mutual respect, too often what comes across is anger, bitterness, and disrespect.

And I can't help but think there's got to be a better way to articulate our views on how we honor and love God by how we love and honor others.

Jesus is not saying that we ought to disregard the Fourth Commandment and not honor and keep the Sabbath. The point is not that the Sabbath is not important, but love and mercy trumps the Sabbath.

Love and mercy trumps the Sabbath commandment - not in the sense that love and mercy cancels out the Sabbath commandment, but that love and mercy is perhaps the best examples of how we keep the Sabbath commandment.

It's not only the literal refrain from work that is important, but that we honor the spirit and the purpose of why God gave us the commandments to begin with.

And to be fair, there is anger, bitterness, and disrespect from those who are on the other side of the homosexuality debate.

There is a bit of Phariseeism in all of us.

I don't want to be in a church that relates to one another in this way anymore.

I want to be a church that starts with love, mutual respect, mercy, and grace.

Perhaps, when we start there, we just might be able to make some headway in "being" the church.

We don't have to agree on everything. But what connects us - Jesus Christ - ought to be greater than what divides us - our disagreements.

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