Monday, August 6, 2012

The Pharisee in me I see

Great Big Thank You's to Pastor Larry - You have given me and God much to talk about together today.  If you don't already have some place to be on Sunday mornings at 9:30am I would highly recommend spending some time with the NO WALLS group at RIFCN. And if you do have someplace else to be, I would recommend you rethink that personal choice so that you can join us!

Mark 2:23 - 3:6
23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”  Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”  Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.  He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

This passage of scripture is where our little group hung out and spent some time this morning. We are working our way thru the book of Mark, it's not a's a journey of discovery. The focus of the later part of our discussion was the intention of the Sabbath - and I will ponder that more in the coming days, but today where my mind and heart lingered was on the behavior of the Pharisees in the above verses.

Jesus and his posy were walking thru some fields, they were hungry, and so they participated in what may be the first documented case of "drive thru" or in this case "walk thru" dining. They didn't go out of their way to find food, the food was there and they needed to eat. It's like when you are hiking in the forest and come across some wild blueberries or grapes...or when you are riding your bike on the Mississippi Trail and happen across Whiteys Ice Cream... or when you are driving to wherever and see that the Starbucks drive thru is open with no waiting - same thing right? Only this time it was on the Sabbath and there were rules about such things. Another time Jesus came across a man in need of something He could offer ~ healing. But again, it was the Sabbath, a day of rest and worship and not work.

In both cases the Pharisees watched, waited and pounced on the idea that rules were being broken. Jesus was doing things they didn't like or approve of. Jesus wasn't playing the religion game by their rules. Jesus was challenging their standard behavior. He was friends with people who they would avoid. He would touch people He knew were sick and unclean. He didn't turn away from the people who needed Him most and He didn't mind stepping on and over a few rituals in the process. Jesus was rocking the boat. The Pharisees were not very happy with Jesus, and after re-reading verse 5 a few times I am pretty sure that Jesus wasn't very happy with them.  These smart men were so focused on their precious rules that they missed entirely how God had provided food in a moment of hunger and dynamic physical healing to a person in true need. These Pharisees where blinded by their own limited understanding, by frustration and by anger; they could not see the real and active work of the One True and Living God because they were focused on the wrong things.

Oh Snap!

There it is. How many times have I also chose to focus on the wrong things and in the process missed seeing and being a part of dynamic stuff that God was doing? (Maybe it wasn't being done the way I wanted, or maybe the "wrong" person was leading.)  How many times has my anger or personal conflicts kept me from being willing or able to see any good in a situation or person? (It's never good enough, or right enough for me to be happy or content.) How many times have I sought to find the fault or shortcoming of another and willfully and completely overlooked any positive attributes?( I do after all know who they are, how they behave and I am quite certain it will not change.) How many times have I sought to protect what was comfortable to me and the cost of someone around me in need? (This is the way we do it here, this is the way we like it here, and we don't want to change it here.) If I looked closely at my actions or listened closely to my words, how often would I see in me a Pharisee? Can I get so stuck in the ritual, that I loose sight of my relationship with my Creator, Savour and Lord?

God, help me to start today with clear eyes and a fresh heart for you. I want to look for your hand at work in my life and the lives of those around me. Cast out the fear that creeps into my thoughts when you move in ways I don't expect or understand. Turn my frustration to compassion. Melt my anger with your mercy and love. Soften my heart and strengthen my determination to submit my will to Yours. Amen.

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