Should you show compassion to just the wrong person or break the wrong rule, you can sense them leaning into you, whispering in your ear “You broke my heart Joey!” You are about to be on the out.
Jesus came face to face with the religiously right. He messed with them, disobeyed their rules and flaunted his freedom. They hated him. They killed him. He was on the out.
The real question seems to be “who do you think Jesus is?” In John 5, we discover the Son of God. The One who can heal when and who he wants. The One who gives freedoms that hurt the sensibilities of the patently religious. We discover a crippled man who got caught in the swirl of the religious mafia.
Is it all about being right? How do we know if we are acceptable? One would think that if we’ve received Jesus’ freedom, we would find ourselves acceptable, but the crippled man found himself suspect.
Jesus told the Pharisees “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
This scripture startles me a bit. It calls me up short – it tells me that I need to know who Jesus is before I can answer the question “then how shall we live?”
In our house, we have very few rules. The real reason is that four kids were way too many for me to keep track of, and every one of them was going to break many rules a day. My sensibilities were strong, and I had lots of things that I thought were “right.” Then my kids broke my rules and the world didn’t end. My kids taught me that sometimes the most loving response is to hug a child who is drawing on the wall, and congratulate them on being creative. Thus, over the years, the myriad of rules in my head were reduced to two:
- Be kind to others
- Don’t be stupid
This is how I learned to judge actions. In essence, it reduces everything to Love Others and Love God, kind of like Jesus did. It also means that we might just offend others…but we will love them while they are breaking these most basic rules.
Now that I have a house full of teens, I’m discovering a new dynamic – some of them think that life should have rules – and are very frustrated when their “rules” get broken. It is a very complex but fun dynamic to help them work through how to live by the two rules that gave them freedom and create structures that will keep them (emotionally, spiritually) safe. It is my hope that each finds such a place of love that they are truly able to live in freedom.
Are you tempted to focus on the rules, or focus on Jesus? Do you find rules safe? What does freedom look like to you?