Rules or Relationship?
The sermon will be a post on our Facebook page. Please click on link to view sermon.
Do you want to be right, or do you want to have a relationship? When a teenager spends $200 on the world’s coolest sunglasses is it the time to comment on the foolishness of the purchase or to simply smile and nod? May the people of Corinth eat meat sacrificed to idols? Paul seems to suggest that it does not really matter where the meat comes from. What matters is how the people you care about feel about that meat. Will it challenge their faith? Will it become a stumbling block to the weak? Do you want to be right, or do you want to have a relationship?
This theme continues in the gospel. The laws prohibiting work on the sabbath carry deep meaning for many people of faith, and yet on this sabbath Jesus rebukes an unclean spirit and frees a man. Jesus chooses to care for the man and to free him, rather than worry over the details of the law. In this instance Jesus is not condemned for his choice, as he will be later. But his fame begins to spread throughout the region. That too will later prove dangerous, yet it is also a sign of the evangelical nature of the faith. This is not a private faith, held closely and kept hidden. Rather it is an outgoing faith spread from person to person throughout the world.
To this day people continue to place barriers and restrictions on the faith. Congregations do this in intentional ways, for example, by setting a minimum age for receiving holy communion. The benefits of these restrictions can be debated, but at least they are chosen intentionally. Churches also create unintentional barriers. Consider the clothes people wear to church each Sunday. Are many people wearing suits and ties? Do you see blue jeans? Do people wear shorts in the summer? What are some of the ways people might be kept from a relationship with Jesus by the barriers we create?
Gospel: Mark 1:21-28
Forces that would bring death and disease have taken hold of a man, yet they recognize Jesus and know what his power means for them. Jesus commands these forces to leave and people are amazed at his authority.
21[Jesus and his disciples] went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.