Friday, April 01, 2011
Living the Story #21, Lent 2011
...one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"
Jesus answered, "The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
And the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."
And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." - Mark 12: 28 - 34
We tend to think of Jesus' relationship with the religious scholars of his day as a bit less than amiable. There are accounts of Jesus calling these guys names and calling down woes and in the end, it was the religious establishment that plotted to kill Jesus.
But if Jesus loves all people, then he loves all people. His angry communication was not personal, he was trying to wake these guys up to the reality and beauty of the kingdom of God. And here we see Jesus and a scribe agreeing and Jesus' affirmation of the scribe's thoughts.
We can tend to look at religious establishment and organization today through the grid of "modern day Pharisee-ism". We feel that people involved in religious institutions just don't get it and have turned Christianity into a set of rules. It can become easy for evangelicals to speak arrogantly against people in mainline denominations, older churches or even bigger churches like they aren't free and don't have the "real christianity" and that they just don't get it.
And suddenly, we're Pharisees.
Jesus loves the poor and broken and the proud and the rich and the religious and the homeless and the sick and the intelligent and the professionals and students and the humble and the jerks and rulers and left and right wings and the moderates and soldiers and foreigners and everybody. He loves people.
He was willing to talk to anybody, have open debate, speak compassionately, argue, heal, turn over tables, share a meal, spend the day teaching and hang from a cross, all to show people the way to relationship with the Father.
It's hard to be like Jesus. But I think it's less about trying real hard and more about yielding in the moment to him and letting him live his life and love through us.