The Spirit and the Letter of the Law

July 17th, 2008 • Category: Gospel of Luke
by Mark Shoup

Today’s scripture: Luke 14:1-6 (ESV-text and audio) (KJV) (The Message)

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

My thoughts (Mark Shoup):

It is easy to make the comparison between the Pharisees of Jesus’ time and some of the religious leaders of our time.  Both groups are often more concerned with using the letter of the law to exclude marginalized people than the spirit of the law for inclusion.  In both cases, there is probably much more money and acclaim in marginalization than acceptance.

Recently, I was watching news coverage of James Dobson, who had taken it upon himself to paint presumed Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama in a bad light.  Dobson showed how, when asked if Obama thought we should use the Bible to govern our country, Obama replied, “Which part?  There are parts of Leviticus that seem to condone slavery.”  Dobson responded that this shows that Obama has skewed theology, since we are no longer under the Old Testament law.  However, the next thing the coverage showed was a clip of Dobson quoting Levitican law to condemn GLBT people.  It would have been funnier if it didn’t happen to us all the time.

That is kind of what Jesus is doing in today’s passage.  He is showing the Pharisees that, not only is their thinking off track, but that in reality they don’t believe their own teaching, either.

We should all make sure we are not using God’s Word to deflect scrutiny of our own lives by putting someone else in the spotlight.

Thought for the day: Am I walking the walk, or just talking the talk?

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

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