I have some issues with unexplained laws and rules. I ‘m sure like me you’ve driven along a road with a 30m speed limit, a beautiful wide road with no other traffic and wondered why they made such a low limit. Or you see a lush stretch of grass with a ‘keep off the grass’ sign. Or a beach lapped by inviting water and a ‘do not swim’ notice.
But, once a child darts out from behind a parked car after a ball, or you see the worn patches where a hundred people have walked or someone explains there’s a riptide that could sweep you out to sea then we understand why the rules are in place.
I was reading the end of Luke 11 this morning, Jesus is giving the Scribes a hard time. As I read it occurred to me that it wasn’t so much that they were keeping the law, enforcing the law but that they failed in their obligation to explain why and how to keep it.
Jesus:46 Well, now that you mention it, watch out, all you religious scholars! Judgment will come on you too! You load other people down with unbearable burdens of rules and regulations, but you don’t lift a finger to help others.
52 So, religious scholars, judgment will come on you! You’re supposed to be teachers, unlocking the door of knowledge and guiding people through it. But the fact is, you’ve never even passed through the doorway yourselves. You’ve taken the key, left the door locked tight, and stood in the way of everyone who sought entry.
That’s quite an indictment, He wasn’t telling them not to keep the Law but that in keeping it and not explaining or helping others they imposed a huge burden on. In fact, He says, they don’t even really know the Law, they have just picked up the language and then blocked anyone else from learning about it by standing in the way.
I wonder if we do that when we condemn things in the world – abortion, promiscuity, sexuality, drug abuse, prosperity or poverty – that we disagree with because God has spoken about them without showing a better way. I’m not implying we shouldn’t speak out about these things but if our lives don’t demonstrate the better way, the God way then aren’t we like those religious scholars putting a burden on people without helping?
7 But this beautiful treasure is contained in us—cracked pots made of earth and clay—so that the transcendent character of this power will be clearly seen as coming from God and not from us.
It doesn’t have to be scary stand-up and preach; it has to be a simple but profound change in our lives. Maybe that is scary – I have a feeling it is when we try to do it ourselves and don’t let God do the work in us (at least that’s how it makes me feel). But Paul is so eloquent here. We are cracked pots, imperfect people who are used and filled by a glorious God! He fills us whether we try to hide the cracks or let them show. Letting them show is always better because then we leak and need to be constantly refilled, we need to be constantly close to Him because we know we can not ever do it alone.