In Chains

I wonder sometimes how the rules and laws of the first century, Middle Eastern Jewish community have managed to bind chains around this 21st century, Western Christian community in a way that causes the latter to beatify those chains.

©Yeong-Deok Seo http://youngdeok.com

©Yeong-Deok Seo http://youngdeok.com

Until the freedom of God’s love, mercy and grace are longed for, we will not have the unity of faith Christ desired. We as followers must continue through all hardship to build His kingdom here on earth through His love, mercy and grace no matter the cost. I think this is the daily cross Jesus referred to:

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

And here we are again, anticipating the 2016 election, tossing words around like weapons. Heaving Bible verses as hand grenades. Instead of offering shelter to the lost and weary, instead of offering mercy to the ones who may feel like weeds in a meadow of flowers, we sling insults and condemnation. We need to give living water to those dying of thirst, not kick sand in their parched faces.

Let’s take one, single, hot-button example.

Is abortion wrong? Does it kill human life? Most Christians would say, “Of course.”

Is our accompanying accusation or condemnation righteous? Not according to Jesus.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3)

 “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:36-38)

“You spend your time judging by the wrong criteria, by human standards; but I am not here to judge anyone. If I were to judge, then My judgment would be based on truth; but I would not judge anyone alone. I act in harmony with the One who sent Me.” (John 8:15-16)

 If we want to end abortion and follow Jesus, what should we do?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

 “If you’re listening, here’s My message: Keep loving your enemies no matter what they do. Keep doing good to those who hate you. Keep speaking blessings on those who curse you. Keep praying for those who mistreat you. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:26-28, 35)

Our natural instinct is to quote Scripture, declare ourselves right, to allow our passions to kidnap us away from Christ. Derek Flood in his book, Disarming Scripture*, writes,

“Just as Paul’s religious audience in Romans was longing for wrath, so too was the audience of Jesus [in the Temple]. They believed – like so many still do today – that the way justice is fulfilled is by the destruction of their enemies. This violent view was at the heart of the common Jewish messianic expectation which hoped for God to come in vengeance, and thus understood the messiah as a warrior king…However, when they understand that this will involve showing grace and not vengeance to [the enemy], they become furious with Jesus and try to kill him.”

Somehow, we need to hold the dichotomy of loving our enemies in our heads, our hands and our hearts with grace and with mercy, with prayer, and with the power and compassion of the Holy Spirit. Practically?

When we focus on being “right,” quoting “right” Scripture, or determining we have the “right” biblical interpretation, we thoughtlessly marginalize and demean people – God’s people. We must pray for women seeking abortion. We must pray for doctors who perform them. We must welcome them into our homes and to our tables. We must pray for those who don’t comprehend life begins at conception. We must pray for their hearts and minds to be transformed, for their eyes to see and understand. We must engage in civil, loving and respectful conversation without allowing our emotions to enslave us. We must, instead, allow the Spirit’s fruit to reign.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against these things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

We must not dress ourselves again in the chains Jesus died to remove.

*Disarming Scripture, Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did ©2014 Derek Flood Metanoia Books, San Francisco, CA

38 comments

  1. […] written many times before about our discipleship of love. About discarding the chains that bind us to legalism , judgment and division. Yet somehow, we cling to those chains as if our life – our […]

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  2. […] written many times before about our discipleship of love. About discarding the chains that bind us to legalism , judgment and division. Yet somehow, we cling to those chains as if our life – our […]

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  3. […] written many times before about our discipleship of love.  About discarding the chains that bind us to legalism , judgment and division. Yet somehow, we cling to those chains as if our life – our […]

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  4. I think Christians need to not be too concerned with involving ourselves in many of societies issues. We form opinions & level judgment at others as your post pointed out. A pastor of the church I’m now attending said last week at our mid-week Bible study group when asked about his stance on the Gay Marriage said he tells people without taking sides in the debate that he just tries to love the people regardless of their situation. He said that we should be concerned with introducing people to Christ then let God’s Word & the Holy Spirit show them if they need to make changes in their lives.
    I took away from his words that it’s up to us to preach the Good News of Salvation through Christ not to preach moral standards to unbelievers.

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    1. Absolutely agree with you, Tony. We have to get beyond moralizing about religious law, which is exactly what Jesus preached about. He preached relationship, love and compassion; those were his directives to us.

      I think you have a terrific pastor there.

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  5. Well said Susan. Personally I think the quality that is most bent or broken by Christians is “Judge Not…” I find many religions exclusive – the opposite if what I perceive God and Jesus to be about. I have always said that the Bible is incomplete – it should be stamped in big letters inside the front cover “FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY”

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    1. lol! Love that, Paul. I agree 100%! 😀

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  6. “We must pray for their hearts and minds to be transformed, for their eyes to see and understand.” Amen to your words, Susan. Loving prayers are powerful. God is love—not hate.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

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    1. Absolutely, Wendy. Blessings and peace back to you. 🙂

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  7. Awesome post!! “Judge not, that you be not judged” is something that we all need to remember. We need to shed the old cloak of religiosity that so many of us were raised with. We should never point fingers at another with accusations of sin. We are to love as Jesus loved… it is only then that others will see the love of Christ through us and He can use us as His vessels. God bless you, Susan!

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    1. Bless you, too. From one vessel to another. ❤

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  8. Sometimes Christians get on a gun ho mission to end sin. We focus too much on the problem and not on the person jesus did not go after the symptom which is sin he went to the heart of that person which is where the problem lies and that’s where we need to go how do we get there exactly as you said it says love and grace

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    1. Amen, Brandon. Thanks so much for adding your comment. The heart of individuals is where we need to focus our attention with love and compassion, just as Jesus did.

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    1. Thanks, Brandon.

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  9. That picture made my skin crawl!!! Ahhhh!!!! Something about small bumps, or dots, or whatever… just gets me!!!

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    1. lol! It’s actually bicycle chain. And I’m glad it made your skin crawl. Was kinda the point. 😉

      Good to see you here!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is still crawling!!! Ahhhh! lol 😉

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  10. You know it’s natrual to love your enemies and pray for them when we are spending time with Jesus. How we react our year someone is a direct reflection on out relationship with God. Really a on target post Susan.Thank you for sharing.

    Much love Tom

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    1. Thanks, Tom. You’re so right; if we are abiding in the Spirit and spending time with Jesus it does become natural, and turns into a natural reflection of his love.

      Thanks for adding your words here. It helps to explain it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just like connecting with you my friend. You are so welcome.

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  11. “Somehow, we need to hold the dichotomy of loving our enemies in our heads, our hands and our hearts with grace and with mercy, with prayer, and with the power and compassion of the Holy Spirit. ”

    I’ve been calling this the “tension” of the Christian faith for the believer. This loving our enemies is part of that “tension”, always balanced by love and especially the practical expression of love. This hope we have in God and his redemptive work in lives, in spite of the difficulties we see or face, is part of that “tension” of living out our faith in this world.

    Thanks for sharing! ❤

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    1. Absolutely, Ann. Thank you so much for contributing your thoughts. It is tension, and if we can see it as a practical expression of love, we are one step closer to living out our faith as Jesus asked us to.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Is the title of the book you cited meant to be satirical?

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    1. No – that’s the actual title. And it’s a darn good book! It’s a call to stop putting political agendas first and read the Bible as it was meant to be – through the eyes of the loving and compassionate Savior of all people.

      Read the forward on Amazon – explains it better than I can. 🙂

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  13. Apparently the Holy Spirit visited you too. Just read this after my post. Ummmmm wow. He’s doing something, He’s moving.

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    1. He is, Melissa. One person at a time, one step at a time, one heart at a time.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. “I wonder sometimes how the rules and laws of the first century, Middle Eastern Jewish community have managed to bind chains around this 21st century, Western Christian ”

    Because your religion is based on the Jewish religion. It just has bits built on top.

    “We must pray for women seeking abortion. We must pray for doctors who perform them. We must welcome them into our homes and to our tables. We must pray for those who don’t comprehend life begins at conception. We must pray for their hearts and minds to be transformed, for their eyes to see and understand. We must engage in civil, loving and respectful conversation without allowing our emotions to enslave us.”

    Sounds good. Or lawfully try to change the law through government.

    Much better than trying to blow clinics up: https://www.rawstory.com/2015/08/kansas-abortion-clinic-linked-to-george-tiller-evacuated-after-man-brings-in-active-bomb/

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    1. Absolutely, GC. Violence is anathema to everything Jesus taught.

      And while some may attempt to lawfully try to change the law through government, hearts are not changed through laws. Hearts are only changed through love and compassion.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Amen Susan. How long will we continue in the same cycle of hatred before we step out in love to break it?

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    1. How long, indeed, John? A journey begins with a single step each one of us must take.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. “I wonder sometimes how the rules and laws of the first century, Middle Eastern Jewish community have managed to bind chains around this 21st century, Western Christian community in a way that causes the latter to beatify those chains.”

    Thank you for this post, Susan. As I read the opener and the rest my own thought is “which is easier?”
    a) To pay lip service to a list of do’s and don’t. Doing the do’s when we must with a half-hearted duty “tick – job done”)
    b) Going to the essence of “why” do and don’t do – too much effort. Can’t do that only when someone is watching or I think I should.

    Not sure it is just that period and those laws. Wonder if it is something far deeper and universal: finding the way of least effort Maybe.

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    1. So much easier to follow a list of rules, particularly when it’s a bulleted list written by someone else – anyone else.

      The rich young ruler thought so, and turned away. Jesus was saddened (not angered) by his choice, yet continued to love him.

      We must take heed; we must follow in kind.

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  17. One of the problems is that people have been been conditioned to hammer the victims once they have them in a head lock. Those who have been so served will do whatever it takes to never cross the “evangelist” again.

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    1. Which is why we need to continue to love and show grace and mercy and pray. We must continue to be the hands and feet and heart of Jesus to everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. … His his commandments are not burdensome.

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