Lord of the Rules

September 21st, 2007 • Category: Encounters with Jesus
by David Zier

Today’s scripture: Matthew 12:1-14 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts (David Zier):

I get frustrated when I hear people use the rules in Leviticus against the GLBT community. How many people comply with the rules laid out in Leviticus? Whether it is shaving, clothing, food choices, going to the doctor (and not a priest), sin offerings, and more, why do so many religious authorities “pick and chose” which rules apply and which ones don’t? We need to remember that the survival of God’s people was at stake, and there was a purpose for these rules at the time: providing spiritual principles, sanitary practices, worship guidelines, dietary guidelines, and standards of medical care. But then Jesus came from God as the ultimate sin offering, and to teach us how to live.

When I read this passage, it made me think — these leaders were using the Old Testament laws as an excuse for evil and ignorance on the Sabbath. I realize that sounds harsh, but think about it. If people can go hungry, or are allowed to wither away, just because you must follow rules and cannot provide nourishment and care (healing), the religious leaders of Jesus day were essentially sanctioning and justifying doing “bad” and not living in the love of the Lord by disallowing such actions.

We are told by some that homosexuality is a choice. When confronted with this, I always ask, “So, when did you choose to become a heterosexual?” The rules of Leviticus used against us are identifying practices in worship toward idols and other gods, and included temple prostitution. It was not identifying people who were born this way, and living as God intended. Some religious authorities and churches use their picked-and-chosen rules to assert that we should not be who God created us to be.

Because these messages have scarred generations of our people and have caused spiritual, emotional, social, and physical harm to our people, this is another example where religious authorities apply rules for the sake of doing “bad”. Isn’t it funny how we keep repeating the patterns we see in history? I wonder how the religious leaders and churches would treat Jesus if he were here in person in our time.

Thought for the day: Let’s follow Jesus example, and apply the rules as they were intended — for good, and not evil!

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to start, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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