As Ones Who Speak The Truth
In the Gospel of Mark 7:1-23, the Scribes and Pharisees criticized Jesus because his disciples bought food in the market and ate it without performing the required ritual washing of their hands and food. Jesus responded that the Pharisees were hypocrites who had put human rules and traditions above God’s commandments. They observed elaborate rituals of washing so what was impure did not enter their bodies, but it was the impurities in their hearts that mattered to Jesus. Many monetarily poor people then and now lack access to clean water, but are clean (pure) in heart. Rituals of cleanliness do not make us pure if our hearts are without compassion.
In Galatians 3:23-29, Paul says we inherit the promise made to Abraham not by following a particular set of rules made by humans, but through faith. Further, this promise is made to everyone: men and women, slave and free, Jew and Gentile. Everyone can inherit the Kingdom.
Challenging established personal habits and society’s rituals is difficult, even when they no longer serve us or God. Challenging human rules and the traditions of society, as Jesus did, is often dangerous. Early Christians not only preached the Good News but they practiced a different way of life, one of charity and radical inclusion. And for this they were martyred. Likewise, early Friends hearing the Good News anew challenged the rules of class and prejudice of their times. They too suffered and some died. Yet, through the witness of generations of Friends, religious toleration was established, the ancient institution of slavery was abolished, prisons were made better, and women gained their suffrage and rights. We are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses.” Through God all things are possible.
Query for Reflection
What are the human rules and traditions in my personal life, my meeting, and in Friends United Meeting which need to be challenged by God’s higher laws?
Is there a rule in your family or personal life which stands in the way of fulfilling God’s call for you? Ask a trusted friend or advisor to pray with you to find a way forward.
Dear Lord, help me see the human rules and traditions in my life, in my local church, and in FUM that need to be changed so God’s laws and promises can be fulfilled.