Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Do we want the truth or to paint our own narrative?

Read John 7

Jesus went to the festival, initially keeping a low profile, but then headed to the temple courts and began teaching.  The people were, of course, amazed.  Elsewhere we note that Jesus taught with authority not the way their regular teachers offered God’s word.

The Jews which surely included some religious leaders were confounded on where this man got his education.  They didn’t ask if he went to Princeton or Vanderbilt or Memphis Theological Seminary.  They would have been asking, “Who was this man’s rabbi?’”

It doesn’t appear that they asked Jesus directly but he answered them directly.  He was from God.  Everything he knew came straight from the Father.  You would know this if you truly desired to follow God.

Jesus confronted the crowd.  “Why are you trying to kill me?”

Jesus knew how to get under the skin of a hypocrite.  “Moses gave you the law, yet none of you keep it.”

Ouch!  That one had to hurt.  The crowd responded that he was demon possessed.

Jesus noted that he did a miracle and the people were amazed.  It was on the Sabbath, so now the people thought he was evil.

Jesus gave them an example of how hypocritical they were.

 If the Sabbath falls on the eight day after your kid is born, you still bring him for circumcision.  You say that circumcision is from Moses, but really it came from God’s command long before Moses floated down the river.  Moses was possibly the worst example for obeying God’s directions to circumcise, but Jesus didn’t confront the crowd with that fact.

He did move on with his analogy stating that if you believe it’s just fine to circumcise on the Sabbath, then why would it be wrong to heal a man completely on such a holy day?

Jesus finally got to a command.  Stop judging on appearances.  Judgment is only correct if it is done in righteousness.  There’s more on that in the next chapter.

Let’s look at this simple directive:  Stop judging on appearances.  We live in a society that lives by just the opposite.  We live in a time when the first person to tell the story gets to paint the narrative.  They get to tell it from their perspective.  More information will become available later, but painting the narrative seems more important than justice or righteousness or seeking the truth.

It’s our human nature to tell things exclusively from our perspective.  If you are big on following the rules, someone who does something that seems contrary to the rules is evil or your enemy or at least a threat to your way of life.

Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, did good on the Sabbath.  The Sabbath, a day made for man and not the other way around, is a day to renew and restore man, so why not a complete restoration?  Why not healing?

If you only see the rules, you are blind to the right living needed to evaluate what’s going on.  Living for Christ is more than rule-following. 

Rules work from the outside in.  When we received Jesus as Lord, we received the Spirit and are equipped to live from the inside-out.

There is nothing wrong with the rules.  God gave his chosen people and gave us directives for our own good.  They have not gone away but have been fulfilled completely by the Lord walking in the flesh and have been surpassed by his glory.

We are the beneficiaries of this.  We have received the Spirit. If we let the Spirit rule in our lives, we have eyes to see and may judge with righteousness.

I understand rules.  I enjoy writing and grammar and syntax are my close friends.  

So, when I see someone write Y O U R for you are, my skin crawls a little.  When someone says I have went instead of I went or I have gone, occasionally the blood vessels in my neck start to show.  When someone says, I seen it, I can only shake my head and say, “that’s Oklahoma.”

Do you know that the past tense of lite is lighted?  For decades lit has come into common usage.  It was fully accepted after the first Gulf War started.  

Do you remember the pilot’s live account of the bombing in Baghdad?  It’s lit up like a Christmas tree.  There was no going back to lighted.

In the midst of the syntax slaughter that is part of my daily consumption, I often can negotiate the intent, but sometimes not.  I like the rules and don’t like to see them change.

Those are man-made rules and they are subject to change.  God’s rules are living and active but not subject to change. They are subject to being abused by those who only see the words, who would condemn a man for healing on the Sabbath.

Cumberland Presbyterians have a term for what we are called to do with God-given rules and scripture as a whole.  We are to engage scripture with the illumination of God’s own Spirit. 

If we want to judge correctly, we must set aside the narrative being painted for us by the world, set aside our own personal preferences and agenda, and receive the message from God illuminated by his own Spirit that lives within us.

Do not let your hearts be hardened by rules but liberated by the Spirit who lives within you and knows the rules first hand.


No comments:

Post a Comment