Rules, Religion, & Relationships

Relationships… followers of Christ are called to relational living. This means that we continually strive to love one another the way God loves us. It means everyone is welcome at the table. It means there is no room for criticism and exclusion. No one is left out. Everyone is included, regardless of race, class, creed, faults, imperfections, social status, or income bracket.

Somewhere along the way, some people have missed the spirit of the One who embodies love and truth, and instead they have, like the Pharisees, taken up with the spirit of the Law. The spirit of legalism shows the world that rules matter more than relationships.

In rediscovering a proper biblical interpretation of Jesus’ message it’s important to remember that Jesus’ ministry was at odds with the religious establishment of his day. Those that were considered spiritually orthodox are the same ones that labeled Jesus a ‘blasphemer.’ Like many reformers throughout history, Jesus was declared a heretic and executed. Ironically, yesterday’s heresy, often becomes today’s orthodoxy.

All of us interpret scripture with certain prejudices. Be careful. We all view of life through various cultural lenses stemming from personal experiences, places of origin, and family value systems. Be careful. We all bring a blend of political ideas, personal discrimination, and religious perspectives to the table when interpreting and applying the scripture. Be careful.

We can’t forget… Scripture must be interpreted through the Spirit of Jesus. When you read any passage, you must ask yourself, How is this like God as he is reveled in Jesus? Jesus clarified the moral character of God and this is the same window through which we must interpret the Bible. The way of Jesus is a different way: different from anything we’ve ever seen before. God is like Jesus and always has been. His followers willfully choose life over condemnation.

After the woman was caught in the act of adultery, the Pharisees took her to Jesus and insisted she be given over to what the Law of Moses commanded. Let me ask, how many people has the church ‘stoned’ through the years in the name of Jesus? How often do people who call themselves Christians judge someone with the letter of the Law and not the spirit of the Word?

Don’t allow religion and rules to matter more than relationships. At the end of the day right orthodoxy does not equal being right with God if you don’t love your neighbor. Without relationships, rules are nothing more than sin management. God didn’t call us to management… He called us to relationships.

2 Replies to “Rules, Religion, & Relationships”

  1. Brian, I found myself shaking my head in agreement with much of this. Too often, our public pronouncements can be without grace (Col. 4:6). I was disappointed, however, that when citing John 8:1-11 and the account of the woman caught in adultery, you didn’t finish the story. Jesus makes a two-sided proclamation: “Neither do I condemn you” but concludes with “now go and sin no more.” It’s that tension between grace and moral transformation which proves very tricky to work out in real life, yet this “loving but firm” response is the only one that doesn’t leave us mired in our sin. “Love” that leaves people in their predicament is no love at all.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve tried to detail that tension in a recent essay:

    Thanks for your thoughts! Keep blogging.

    – Greg

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