"The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Then Jesus said to them, 'I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or destroy it?' After looking around at all of them, Jesus said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury." - Luke 6:7, 9-11a
I'm a rule follower. Give me a rule, and I will follow it. Don't give me a rule, I'll make one up and insist upon it. Break a rule in front of me and my blood pressure spikes.
Like a Pharisee.
I've always felt so (self) righteous about my rule-following. Until I started to see the videos pop up on social media:
White people taking it upon themselves to police public parks, neighborhood pools, coffee shops. White people screaming at black and brown people about the rules.
Many of which they had made up. Many of which were not being broken. All of which were a thin pretext for the blatant racism of the "rule followers."
Jesus holds out a different standard of righteousness. More important than rules, he says, are goodness, and healing, and life.
A family barbecue. An afternoon swim. Chalking the sidewalk with your kids. What could be more important?
Jesus heals a man. Restores him. It's a miracle! But the Pharisees can't celebrate. They have come to love their rules more than God's Rule of Love.
And I know how they feel.
I repent of the times I have chosen lawful harm over rule-breaking love.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.