“We’ve got rules. We can’t do that.” “The church council has met and they’ve decided we can’t have have those people around.” “Choir practice is always Wednesday nights. You can’t move it!” “Our bylaws say…”
So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. – John 5:10-15, ESV
As we looked at yesterday, Jesus healed a crippled man, but He did it on the Sabbath. Then He told the man whom He had healed to pick up his bedding and go. There’s nothing scriptural against such an act. The admonitions which are close, such as in Nehemiah, were intended to keep folks from pushing forth in work 7 days a week when they had a choice. It wasn’t about gathering up your bedding and heading home. However, the Jews in the religious authority had an issue with that. Therefore, they question the healed man. They completely disregard the miracle of his healing.
The man’s reply was that he was commanded by the person who healed him. He didn’t know Jesus’ name. Stop and think about that. Jesus didn’t perform the miracle for personal publicity. He didn’t know the man beforehand. He didn’t have anything to gain from the man. He simply healed. Jesus did so and nothing He did or say was in violation of the Scriptures.
Yet, the religious leaders had an issue. They took their own interpretation, their own tradition, and elevated it to the mandatory action. They declared it was for God, for keeping God’s commands. And if you didn’t do what they said was correct, you were wrong. Even if what you did wasn’t against Scripture.
We have this problem in many churches and para-church organizations today. Rather than seen the Scripture and let it be our guiding document, we too often fall back on man-made rules and traditions. As a result, we miss opportunities to minister in the name of God. We restrict ourselves from joining God in His work, especially when it comes to reaching outside of our comfort zones. We lost out on moments to share Jesus’ love, to build the Kingdom, and to bring God glory. And we hide behind “the rules” when we do so.
Rules are important. Commands are crucial. After all, if they weren’t, what’s the point of all such commands and instructions in the Bible. However, we must be careful not to let rules other than Scripture prevent us from acting with love, compassion, and kindness. We must be vigilant to not allow man-made rules to get in the way of sharing the Gospel, of ministering to others, of being Jesus’ hands and feet in this world.
Traditions and procedures and earthly laws are fine and we should respect them, but not at the cost of following Jesus’ example. They should not prevent us from responding to God’s call to serve and love and minister and witness. Should we let those things get in the way and should we not respond, we are in disobedience. Let’s use the real word for that: sin. When we let our rules and ways get in the way of our responding to God, we are in sin. There’s no other way to look at it.
Let us obey Scripture first. Let us be like Jesus and seek to meet the need before us, even if there are man-made rules and traditions that are in the way. Let us do so in a way which honors God, which points people to Him, which brings Him glory. Let us be Kingdom-minded not only in what we think and say, but also in what we do.