Rules

Text: Luke 6:9
Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?’ (NRSV)

Rules are most often put into place to protect people or property.  Sometimes, we see rules that are put in place to protect ideologies.  These later rules, if applied strictly, can often work against the rules that are designed to protect people.

The text for this morning follows on the heals of Jesus and his disciples waking through a grain field on the Sabbath; a day on which strict “no-work” rules are in place and protected by religious ideology.  The disciples are hungry and begin to pick some heads of grain and eat them.  The religious leaders who were with them accused them of breaking the law by harvesting on the Sabbath.

Next on that same Sabbath day, we see a man with a “withered hand” in the synagogue and Jesus asks the question we see above.  The religious leaders do not answer Jesus, so Jesus heals the man and infuriates the religious leaders who are more concerned about their rules that protect their ideologies than they are about people who are created in God’s image and are loved by God.

This particular text speaks to me because I am the law-and-order type.  I spent 38 years in the military where everything was done by the book and you seldom if ever questioned orders you were given.  Many times, you didn’t even know why the specific order was given, you just carried it out.

I have trouble delineating between rules that are in place to protect people and property and rules that are in place to protect ideologies and the status quo.  It is not always easy for me to see the rules that cause harm and produce things like the institutional and systemic racism, sexism, classism, and white male privilege that run rampant in our culture.

This text causes me to realize that I probably would have been furious with Jesus for disregarding the long-standing rules that protected the religious ideologies of the day at the expense of the people for whom he would die and whom God loved so much that he gave his only Son.

Pray with me:

God of love and God of compassion open my eyes to the rules I follow that do harm to others simply to maintain the status quo without even asking the question “why?”.  AMEN.

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