Monday, January 23, 2017

Living God’s Way rather than Our Way

I was having a conversation today on a variety of topics which related to how the Church views different moral challenges in our society. Among other topics the issue of a “list of rights and wrongs” was mentioned as if the Church life could somehow be boiled down to what we as Christians are “allowed” or “not allowed” to do before we were accused of sinning. I was reminded of how the ancient Jews had confused the Law as “nothing more” than a list of do’s and don’ts as opposed to a way of life designed to follow God.  Consider today’s  Gospel Reading:
Mark 2:23-28; 3:1-5 (RSV) - At that time, Jesus was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.  And the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?"  And he said to them, "Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?"  And he said to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath." Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand.  And they watched him, to see whether he would heal him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him.  And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come here."  And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?"  But they were silent.  And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch it out," and his hand was restored.
The Ancient Jews were unable to see past the letter of the Law and therefore could not recognize Christ. I don’t think it is a coincidence that today there are many who can’t see Christ for the same reasons. Until the Church is able to express that our way of life isn’t about a list of do’s and don’ts we will never  inspire people to follow Christ.

Life isn’t about what we can and can’t do, but whether or not we want to be in union with God. If we want union, then we stand a better chance of living the life rather than the law. Orthodoxy is a way of life. When we dwell on the do’s and don’ts we focus on how we are “not allowed to do what we want,” and we will stop at nothing trying to convince others of our right to do what we want. It was the mistake that Eve made when confronted by the serpent. Orthodoxy is God’s gift to guide us back to living His way rather than our way.

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