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The Third Way, Part 3 (of 5)

June 30, 2010

We’re tossing around an idea tentatively called The Third Way. Back story is here. Basic idea is here. Insight from Pastor Zahnd is here.

But maybe part of this new life that Jesus asks us to live isn’t about right or wrong. Maybe it’s about Christ.

Jesus didn’t stop with talking about this, though. He lived His own sermon.

On several occasions, Jesus enters the home of, and even sits to eat with, “sinners” (Matthew 9:11-13, Mark 2:15-17, Luke 15:1-7, Luke 19:5-10). Matthew Henry’s Commentary points out that the Pharisees would have interpreted Psalm 1:1 and 119:115 as a case against associating with sinners in order to maintain holiness. They accused Jesus of defiling Himself and, in effect, raised the question of holiness.

But Jesus neither repents nor defends His actions. He points to a different way of thinking. This is not about your holiness or your doctrine, it’s about mercy and the knowledge of God.

Jesus also irritates the holiness authorities by “working” on the Sabbath (Matthew12:1-8, 9-13, Mark 2:23-28, 3:1-6, Luke 6:1-5, 6-10). The Old Testament law pronounced death on anyone who worked on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:15). This wasn’t just about holiness, this was serious business about keeping the law.

Again, Jesus doesn’t really answer the accusation, but tries to open their eyes to a new mindset.

In both situations the religious elite were looking for “Right” or “Wrong,” and Jesus gave them neither.

We are called to be holy, and the Sabbath is a commandment handed down from God, and I think Jesus didn’t want to belittle either of those things. They’re godly and in a sense they are right.

But I think Jesus is trying to open our eyes to a third answer that we have a hard time recognizing on our own because life is easier when everything is True/False, and because religion can be used for our own purposes when there are no shades of gray.

Life is not True/False and our faith should be the whirlwind that brings us to a colorful new world, and I think that Jesus is applying palm to forehead and trying to show us that it’s not just about Right vs. Wrong. It’s not just about your clean slate or your good score.

It’s about love, even when love is unreciprocated and unwanted. It’s about mercy, even when mercy is unjust and undeserved. It’s about living outside of the script society wants to hand you, and living counter-intuitively out of love of God and love of people … even people who are wrong.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2010 9:28 am

    Thought your writing here was very insightful.

    I was reminded of some of the things that Paul said about freedom and grace.

    I think both you and Paul “got it”!

    “It’s about living outside of the script society wants to hand you, and living counter-intuitively out of love of God and love of people … even people who are wrong. ”

    Perhaps “especially” people who are wrong…(they need it the most)

    Thanks, Jeff

    • Lex permalink
      June 30, 2010 9:03 pm

      Thanks Jeff!

      You’re probably right about that last part. The “right” people usually have lots of love coming at them already.

      • June 30, 2010 9:34 pm

        Truth is, all of us fall into that category in some ways.

        Much more than we’re aware of or are comfortable about admitting !

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