Holy Disobedience

Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” He got up and stood there. – Luke 6:8 (NRSV)

The text tells us that Jesus knew what the religious authorities were thinking but this did not stop him from caring for someone in need of help.

It is safe to assume the man in need of healing also knew the law that prohibited healing on the sabbath—but he boldly responded to Jesus’ call to “come and stand here.”

I am sure we can find several lessons in this story, but here are my top three:
     1. Respectability politics has no place in the church.
     2. Obedience to the gospel transcends obedience to laws that do not serve the well-being of all people at all times.
     3. Rules that oppress rather than support mutual growth, reconciliation, and accountability are of no use.

These are essential reminders when we have (sometimes contentious) conversations in our churches about how to faithfully follow Jesus. Will we provide sanctuary to our neighbors? Will we welcome and affirm our LGTBQIA+ siblings? Will we be a space that is welcoming and restorative for folx returning from prison?

Maybe we do not all feel the call to civil disobedience and risking arrest in order to disrupt the destruction empire is raining down on God’s creation (Not guilt-trippin’ here, honestly.)

But today’s text reminds us that, as Christians, each of us is called to stand up in holy disobedience to disrupt practices of harm within our churches—each and every time we witness an occurrence. Silence is not an option.

Holy God, thank you for the invitation to stand with Jesus, the opportunity to be healed and to testify to your redemptive work within the church and in the world. Amen.

Marilyn Pagán-BanksAbout the Author
Marilyn Pagán-Banks serves as Pastor of San Lucas UCC, Executive Director of A Just Harvest and Adjunct Professor at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.