Posted on Oct 03, 2018 by Pastor Dave Whetter
October is here! And for me, when we get to October, I immediately think about confirmation. Our tradition here at Salem is to celebrate confirmation on the last two Sundays of October, so this month there will be a lot of activities with the confirmands. One of the activities for me is to read through all of the sermon feedback booklets. Although it is time-consuming, I love doing it because I always get great questions from the students.
In one of the notes I read recently, one of the students asked if God really meant for us to follow all of the laws in the Bible. That is a great question. Now, according to Jewish tradition, there are 613 laws, “dos and don’ts,” in the Old Testament that expound on the Ten Commandments. So the question about following all of the laws is a good one, but just like the questions the people liked to ask Jesus in his day, it’s probably the wrong question.
Let me explain what I mean. This coming Sunday, our Gospel text is about how the Pharisees asked Jesus if divorce was legal (Mark 10:2-16). Now, if you read the text closely, Jesus never really answered their question. Instead, his response implied that the question they asked was the wrong question. The right question would have been, “Jesus, what is God’s intention for us as human beings?”. This is the question that Jesus answers. He said God created us to be partners with each other working on a single mission, God’s mission. Divorce of any kind, whether it is the separating of two people who are married or it is a community that is breaking up over a dispute, is never God’s intention. God created us to be helpers to each other in partnership (see Genesis 2:20). It is that simple. Are there times when our sinful ways cause us to break apart? Yes, and when that happens, God grieves because relationships have been broken, but God still loves us and God still desires that we enter into healthy relationships again.
The Pharisees wanted more details, more ways to get around the law. They wanted to find the loophole, so to speak. Jesus said, though, you can’t get around the law, but if you follow God’s ways you will experience joy and new life; if you don’t follow God’s ways you will experience brokenness and emptiness in your life.
In today’s world, where we are always looking for more laws to make things right, the truth is, we don’t need more laws or more details for the laws; we need a bigger personal commitment to the laws God has given to us as his gift of life. God gave us these words of life because she loves us and she desires for us to be in relationship with each other and with her, and when we do that, then we share in God’s joy.
I pray we all re-commit ourselves to God’s ways and find joy in our lives.
Have a blessed week!