Saturday, February 7, 2009

Is THAT allowed?!

Matthew 12:9-14 (NRSV)
A healing on the sabbath

My goodness! Isn’t it amazing that there are actually people who want to block the blessings of others? As human beings we are so frail, so quick to sin, so prone to failure. We know that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). But, I can hear that timeless question ringing out in the atmosphere, “Exactly who is my neighbor?”

It is a sad fact that as human being we often discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, age, gender, national origin, disability, and the like. There is not a human being alive that can claim that they have never pre-judged a person without getting to know him or her.

And boy—oh boy—those judgments are loaded. On the basis of what we can see, we make assumptions about what we cannot see—s/he’s greedy, untrustworthy, dumb, lazy, a sinner…You know how it goes.

This is the problem that the folks in the synagogue ran into when Jesus came to visit. When Jesus saw the man with the withered hand, he had compassion on him. When the Pharisees saw that same man all they saw was a sinner seeking help on the day of rest. In order to trap Jesus, they tempted him to heal the man by asking, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath?” But, in response to their foolishness Jesus simply said, “It is lawful…”

Of course it is always lawful to do good…We are called to love and serve all of our neighbors without discrimination on the basis of any defining factor. Thank goodness God’s salvation plan provided equal opportunity for all. That’s why John 3:16 states, “For God so loved THE WORLD that God gave Jesus so that whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life…”

Now here’s the GOOD NEWS! God loves you no matter what and God loves everyone else too! You can be the physical manifestation of God’s love in the world through your kind and compassionate actions. Jesus saw that the man in the synagogue was different, but rather than pushing him away or ostracizing him as others had done, Jesus pulled him in, welcomed him, offered him an act of kindness, and sent him back out into the world a changed man!

Do you think that man became a disciple of Christ? I’m willing to bet he did! With your love and kind actions you too can point others in the direction of the God who loves them so much, he gave his life at Calvary.

Is there someone who is different or in need that you have been ignoring for a while? How can you speak and act to bring GOOD NEWS into his or her life today?

God, we are sorry that we have ignored, shunned, and/or failed to help those who are different. Please fill us with your love, so that we can share it with others. Please grant us your help as we seek to bring GOOD NEWS to those who need it. In Jesus Name, Amen.

*The entire scripture reading for today can be found by clicking the ELCA Daily Bible Reading Tab to the right.

*from Pastor Yolanda's blog
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