God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Monday, October 7, 2013

October 7 - Mark 2: Religious Acts were Made for People, not People for Religious Acts

Today’s Reading: Mark 2

The Message

English Standard Version

Today's reading recounts some of the stories told a few days ago. I will not comment on those stories but one the last—the only one not mentioned previously.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Jesus has authority over everything, including religious observances.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

In Capernaum, men wanting Jesus to heal their friend lowered him into the room from the roof. Jesus forgave his sins, startling the Pharisees. To prove His Authority, Jesus healed the man.
Levi, a tax collector, followed Jesus.
Answering the Pharisees who questioned his company, Jesus informed them He came to invite the sin-sick.
Jesus' followers did not fast because He was with them.
One Sabbath, the Pharisees accused Jesus' followers of working while eating from heads of grain. Jesus answered, "The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. I am master over the Sabbath."

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Religious acts were made to help people set things right. They were never meant to be "essentials".

The story of Jesus defending His disciples on the Sabbath is one I read for years without realizing what Jesus really meant. Once I realized His point, it transformed how I obeyed God. We tend to think there are two views of religious acts (circumcision, the Sabbath, Passover, etc.): "essential", meaning a person must do this under any circumstance or God would not accept them, or "non-essential", meaning it doesn't matter if a person does these things or not. Jesus, as He does to our viewpoints, tells us both of them are wrong. The "non-essential" side missed the importance of the acts—and God's repeated punishment of people who did not do them. The "essential" side also missed the importance of the acts by taking away the reason people observe the religious acts—love. God wanted Israel to observe the Sabbath because He loves them and wanted them to set everything right. As I wrote earlier, God wanted Israel to observe the Sabbath with their hearts not their heads. Observing the Sabbath did not guarantee God's approval; however, God's Chosen People would observe the Sabbath because they were obedient to God's Way. Exceptions were acceptable, not because God was not a man of His Word but because the Sabbath was meant to help His Chosen People obey Him. David ate bread from the Altar because he and his men were hungry not because it was there. God wants His Chosen People to do religious acts because they love and trust His Way, not because they are unbreakable rules.
What does this mean for us today? Any religious act we do must serve us. We should not allow our religious acts to rule us. What does this look like? Take something like Sunday worship. Do we worship every Sunday because it helps us connect with God and His Chosen People or because God required us to worship on the first day of the week? If your reason is the first, it probably means Sundays serve you. If your reason is the second, is may mean you serve Sundays (if a church served sundaes, that would be essential). Does this mean attendance is optional? Not necessarily. If a person misses because they have the opportunity to set something right, they are not skipping. If the person has a tanning salon appointment, they're probably skipping. Here's the point: observances of religious acts are symptoms of our spiritual health, not the problem or the solution. Any religious act we force on another person does not help them. Should we worship on Sundays? Absolutely. But only if it serves our spiritual health.

Does the Sabbath serve you or do you serve the Sabbath?

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