two thoughts to share
I've had a couple of recurring thoughts the last few days. They just need to come out on paper. I apologize beforehand if my ramblings are rough around the edges. :)
Thought Number 1:
1Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand.
2And they watched Jesus,[a] to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.
3And he said to the man with the withered hand, "Come here."
4And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent.
5And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
6The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
I'm reading through Mark right now in my seemingly endless quest to actually have consistent Bible reading, and this really struck me. Recently I've had several experiences/discussions resulting from other people's need to construct man-made rules governing biblical application. I suppose that's why this story made such an impact this time--more than really ever before. The Pharisees were not upset here because Jesus was breaking the Sabbath. As Christ Himself accosts them with the relevant question: Is it lawful to do good, to save a life, on the Sabbath? The Pharisees don't answer, not because they don't know the answer, but because the answer is "Yes." Healing this man's hand was not a Sabbath violation, and if the Pharisees were to be honest, they would have to admit that. Instead, they remain silent.
The Pharisees were angry because Jesus exposed their little man-made constructs for exactly the ridiculous, overbearing extras they were. No wonder Christ grieved at their hardness of heart. They weren't gung ho about protecting the Sabbath, they were gung ho about protecting the power they'd gained by adding rule after oppressive rule to the Law. When their power was threatened in a way they couldn't refute, they decided to eliminate the threat. Sounds a little like some religious groups I can think of. When their intricate system of self-righteous rules--the ones that are supposed to keep us all from sinning by putting broad circles around what the Bible actually commands--is threatened, they attack the threat by accusing it/them of being "worldly," "unspiritual," and "compromising their standards to attract the world." Maybe they just know when they're being scammed: man's traditions and rules are not the same as biblical commands and directives. Not ever.
Thought Number 2:
Again I have had my thoughts turned again to the roles of the mind and heart in the life of following Christ. When I was younger, and then all through college, I often heard the following: Jeremiah 17.9 states that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, so a believer should never trust their emotions. In the past few years--namely thanks to some Eldridge and viewing the verse outside of those lenses/presuppositions--I have been freed from that misconception. There are two things I find wrong with that use of the verse, based entirely on the linguistic aspect alone: 1) the point of the verse isn't that emotions are evil, don't trust them; the point is that we cannot understand other men, we should trust in the Lord because he does understand the hearts of men. 2) prior to about 1800, the heart was not a metaphor for the seat of emotion; rather, the heart was a metaphor for the core of man and his understanding/cognitive abilities. In Shakespeare's day, the spleen was usually referenced when equating an organ to the human emotion center. So, Jeremiah is not saying that emotions are wicked and untrustworthy, he's saying that men are wicked and untrustworthy, place your trust in the Lord.
Which brings me to the next, more salient point: do we or do we not believe that becoming a new creature in Christ includes our emotions? It is illogical to believe that our minds/reason are justified and in the process of sanctification, but our emotions are not. Granted, we can be misled by our emotions; but, I have seen people just as misled by holding onto stubborn opinions. The mind/reason can beguile us just as trickily if we allow it to. Here's the application: Do not excise your heart/emotions from your Path. God can just as easily use our emotional responses to guide us as He can our reasoning abilities. Ignoring our emotions removes us from experiencing an entire aspect of who God is. Here is the key: Whether dealing with emotions or reason in following the Path God has for us, we follow prayerfully and always with the willingness to let go of what our emotions and/or mind has grasped should God lead us somewhere else. It is, to some extent, an almost Buddhist concept--yet one present often in the New Testament. It isn't that we must renounce the things that we love, nor that we must renounce the loving of things as Buddhism would have us do: we must be willing to give those things over to Christ should he ask. I guess, once again, I am back to my mantra of "Balance." Balance certainly isn't easy, but it sure is blessed. It's worth struggling for. It's worth avoiding adding the myriad of man-made rules to remove the balance of daily life and sanctification from our walk. It's worth getting gritty, facing loss, taking risks. Because out of the struggle, out of the balance, out of the grittiness, loss and risk, comes the beauty of becoming Christlike. After all, look at the emotional risks Christ took--he even befriended his own betrayal for 3 years. That's an example worth following.
--Feel free to add some thoughts of your own.