Daily D – Luke 11:53-54
Luke 11:53, 54 As Jesus was leaving, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees became hostile and tried to provoke him with many questions. They wanted to trap him into saying something they could use against him. (NLT)
Jesus irritated a lot of people. He didn’t play the games meant to keep him in his place. He didn’t accept ridiculous customs that did nothing but demonstrate a pretense of religious authority and piety. He didn’t say nice words when kind speech was more helpful.
Results? People shouted at him. Leaders provoked him. Traps were laid for him.
They nailed him to a cross and put him on display for everyone to see what happens to radicals who don’t play the game according to conventional rules.
Reading these two verses reminds me of when Ronald Reagan was president. When he stepped away from a press conference or walked toward Marine One, Sam Donaldson and the other media hounds would shout pejorative questions at him. Reagan did what one of the penguins in the movie Madagascar advised: “Smile and wave, Boys. Smile and wave.”
Jesus didn’t smile and wave. He spoke the truth in love. He attempted to reset the Pharisees and teachers of the law to a stance of abiding relationship with God and away from ceremony and ritual that held little connection to God’s words of instruction. Where God wanted to be known and loved, they set up rules to enforce cultural norms that appeared religious but were incapable of connecting people to God’s grace, mercy, and compassion.
Jesus never played Gotcha! While others used long division to keep things manageable, Jesus employed addition and multiplication to extend God’s grace even to the most unlikely recipients.
If your religious practices lead to fewer and fewer adherents capable of measuring up to your standards, you might be doing it wrong.
I will err on the side of grace rather than the side of legalism.
Our Father, empower me to live a life of transforming grace. Teach me how to abide in your love that seeks the highest and best for everyone everywhere. Lead me far away from formulaic religious practices that build barriers rather than open entryways. Amen.
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Psalm 139:17, 18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.