Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Self-righteousness is the fundamental sin

Posted by Hannah at 9:39 PM

Mark 2:23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
 25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
 27 Then he said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

What the Pharisees objected to was Jesus and his disciples picking the heads of grain on the Sabbath. They regarded this as reaping. It was one of the many acts the teachers of the law had decided should be forbidden on the Sabbath. Jesus was pointing out that while David technically broke the Law of Moses, he was not condemned because such violations under certain conditions of need might be warranted. Jesus had applied this principle to what he and the disciples were doing when picking the heads of grain on the Sabbath.

I remember as a small girl thinking the Pharisees were nuts.  Here are hungry people, and you do no think God would have them fed?  The Starved can WAIT until the Sabbath is over?

The Pharisees there legalistic, and in some cases I would call them extremists.  We know that on the Sabbath the Israelites were to rest from their work. Through that rest they could worship God as the provider of all their needs, and as the God who had saved them from slave-like existence in Egypt. The Sabbath regulation was not given to Israel simply because God wanted people to keep religious rituals. It had a purpose for all those human beings to whom it was given. Jesus to me basically told them they are missing the point!

It reminds me of these crazy news stories about kindergarten boys that bring a small toy gun to school, and they get suspended.  The regulation was 'no weapons'.  Here is this small child with a 1/2" inch toy, and they apply this rule to them?  I think we all realize WHY weapons would not be allowed in school - its common sense.  When we apply this rule that was 'intended' for something completely different? Its a bit nuts to me.  The regulation was applied for safety reasons, and not scare the daylights out of some small child because they brought a plastic gun from his G-I Joe to school!

For the Legalists all that matters is obeying the law... as they interpret it... any hardship, pain, hurt, or personal horror you face in your life is merely your lot before God to endure.

It’s not enough to merely impose the Law, especially when you miss the point of why the law this there. One has to allow the Law to guide, but it isn’t a rigid code to “obey or else”. Within the Law itself one can also apply “judgment, and mercy” (justice and compassion). We will not find justice and compassion in a rigid application of the Law. There are always exceptions to every rule.  I mean look at our kindergartner with his toy gun for example!

Jesus was addressing the Sabbath issue in the context of speaking to the religious leaders of old covenant Israel and the interpreters of the Law of Moses in his day. He was telling them as old covenant people how they should apply the law of the Sabbath, that is, with mercy and thought to human need. He also told them he had the authority to define how they should observe the Sabbath.

To me Jesus is saying that self-righteousness is the fundamental sin. The Pharisees believed they could make themselves acceptable to God through their external obedience to a set of rules. This belief kept them from rejoicing in the receipt of the free gift of forgiveness Jesus offered. 

We do this today quite often as well don't we?  I read heart breaking stories of people being hurt due to rules with no mercy or consideration.  If we read further in Mark the Pharisees were upset that Jesus healed a man's hand on Sabbath.  The Religious rules were more important than grace, compassion, or mercy towards a person with a shriveled hand. 

You see this type of attitude when you deal with domestic violence in the church, and even porn or molestation.  We to often stick the rules to remind people to forgive, and not to show mercy and compassion.

4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Its strange how most people tell me that they don't know how to address domestic violence in the church, because to them scripture doesn't address it.  They also remain silent because they have no 'rule' for that.

I ask what does Jesus stand for?  To do good or evil, to save a life or kill?

They say they KNOW the answer to this, and yet they still remain silent.

The irony of this is you help victims of domestic violence?  They plot against you as well, and label you with nasty labels.  You have to wonder if people can truly see Jesus Spirit of what he truly was trying to get across at times.  Its sad really.  They would rather check pedigrees of the faithful of the past to quote, and search for rules in their bible.  They should be giving protection from abuse instead.

They never realize some paths are full of mercy, compassion, and refuge for oppressive circumstances.  It gives space for healing, growth, and other positive elements.  They only see rules.  Do they see God in those rules?  Does God NOT take circumstances into account?  Yes - we all know he does. 

Don't allow the extremists to tell you what the rules are.  Jesus knows we are to see things past the rules at times, and you see this all through the bible.

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