Monday, 29 February 2016

Religious Rules - Sunday 28th February 2016

Religions define themselves by their rules. Specific requirements concerning dress, food, personal behaviour, intellectual belief and religious ritual are the defining features of every religion. If you want to be part of the religion, you have to keep the rules. And, to keep you on your toes, you are reminded that these are not random rules, they are God’s rules. Christianity, as a religion, is no different.
But Jesus rejected that approach. He didn’t dismiss the religious laws; he exceeded them. “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not murder’. But I say to you that if you are angry with someone, you will be liable to judgement.” Jesus quite deliberately set the qualifying mark so high that no-one could reach it. "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a someone with lust has already committed adultery.”
Jesus calls us to to stop defining ourselves as being good enough, because we can never be good enough. Only perfect love is good enough, and none of us are perfectly loving.
This would be disastrous if God wields a divine clipboard on which all our faults and failings are minutely recorded. But that is not what God is like. God is perfectly loving, and, being perfectly loving, he loves us even with our imperfections. God knows what we are like and still loves us. And - better than that - the more we get into a mess and a muddle, the more God loves us. That is what perfect love is like.

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