During the time of Christ there was a group of leaders called the Sadducees and Pharisees. These were Jewish leaders that believed in following the letter of the law. Repeatedly these leaders would accuse Jesus of blaspheme for breaking laws such as healing on the Sabbath. In Mark 3:1-6 they even use it as motivation to plot the death of Jesus:
3 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.
And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.
And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.
I think it is sometimes easy to look at these people in the scriptures and think we are so much better but are we really? I recently had an experience where I was judged harshly for my interpretation of my faith. It’s a long story but just trust me it was extremely hurtful. I was told I was unworthy, sullied with filthy content, and a bad example to youth. I felt upset, angry, devastated, frustrated and confused.
But I never for a second doubted my choices and how I live my faith. I know I am temple worthy and that God is happy with my life. If I didn’t feel that way I would change because nothing is more important to me than that. However, this person was making me feel ashamed for my choices and reducing my carefully nuanced positions into the harshest of extremes.
Then I thought about the Sadducees and Pharisees. They not only lived by the letter of the law but they created their own rules and then enforced them as if they are God’s law. Sometimes that happens in our modern church and it definitely happened in my situation. Jesus taught certain covenants needed following with exactness such as baptism, but he also taught the spirit of the law.
In Mathew 7:21 he said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
What is the will of the Father? That’s a tough question we each must answer for ourselves, but at the very least shouldn’t we be open to other people’s reasonable interpretations? Sure we have those core doctrines and principles but many life choices are up to the individual to lay out in the best way they know how. I learn from how other people interpret the faith and find truths I can often embrace. I think that’s what the spirit of the law is all about.
In 2 Cor 3:6 we are told to become ministers “not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but THE SPIRIT GIVETH LIFE”
What was Jesus’ response to the Sadducees and Pharisees? He kept on doing what He was doing and “they held their peace”. He did feel anger maybe a tiny bit like I did, but He also felt grieved, and continued doing His work of healing.
As is always my desire in life, I seek to follow Christ, and I know that my life choices while not perfect, are acceptable before the Lord. And I am going to shut out the Sadducees and Pharisees and continue to do the work of watching and reviewing movies, blogging, swimming and everything else I attempt in my life. This is what gives me life and it is my spot that the Lord needs me to work in.
And that may involve a carefully selected R rated movie on occasion, and you know what God is ok with that!