Two ways

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” The LORD answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
— Luke 13.10-17

There are two religions in the world. They are mutually exclusive. Everybody from all traditions, all practices, all religions and all non-religions—Presbyterians and Buddhists, Mormons and atheists, Jews and crystal-worshipers, all choose one or the other. One is the religion of Being Right. You follow rules, believe certain things, and behave certain ways in order to get some kind of assurance of belonging and safety. If you don’t get it right—believe the wrong stuff, or say the wrong incantation, or live the wrong way—you lose. There are ways to redeem yourself, but you have to get them right, too.

The other religion is the religion of Being in Love. You love the gift of this life and the One who gives it, and so you live in love. You give and receive, you serve people, you set people free, you forgive and trust that you are forgiven— not in order to get something right, but because love and joy well up and overflow in you.

If you practice the Religion Being Right, sooner or later you hurt someone in order to Be Right. If you practice the Religion of Being in Love, sooner or later you break a rule in order to love someone. We are always choosing one or the other. Out of fear, we chose being Right. But in love we choose love.

All the power in the world is in love. The “power” of those who are right, who coerce and control and manipulate, is an illusion. It is certainly destructive (the ruler has the power to really hurt this poor woman) but it does not have the only real power, the power to give life. (The ruler couldn’t have healed her if he tried for all six days in a row.) That comes from love alone.

Each moment today, you are choosing between love and control, between following rules and being set free, between controlling and serving, between between going along with what you’ve always thought and opening yourself to something new. Jesus doesn’t choose for you, but he sets you free to choose. I can’t tell you which to choose. But I can tell you the joy of love.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

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