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Saturday, May 5, 2012

When "Religion" Gets in the Way

Have you ever witnessed a miraculous healing? I mean the type that happens right before your eyes. One minute a person is a certain way, the next that person is healed and whole. I haven't been privileged to witness anything like this...yet...but I know some folks who have. On mission trips in Mexico, friends of ours saw some miraculous healings take place. I've also heard pastors, missionaries, etc. tell amazing stories of blind people seeing, visible tumors disappearing, and on and on.  Really cool stuff that shows us God is still in the business of miracles!

Lately I've been reading in the Gospels. I especially love reading about the sick, blind and crippled people coming to Jesus to be healed. His compassion is so beautiful. One of my favorite stories is found in Luke 5:17-27. It's about a paralytic who is brought to Jesus by some of his friends. The crowd gathered around the house was so thick and large, these men couldn't even get close to the door let alone get their friend inside so Jesus could heal him. What to do, what to do?? These awesome friends didn't give up. They didn't say, "Sorry, dude, but we can't do anything else." They came up with a plan.

"When they could not find a way to [get inside] because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus." (Luke 5:19)

That is faith!! That is true friendship! Don't ever give up on your friends and loved ones who need to be healed -- whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually -- by Jesus!

Today, however, I read about a miracle that really made me sad. Not because of the person who was healed, but because of the reaction of those who witnessed it.

In John 9 we find a man who has been blind since birth. Back in those days, people figured the parents had been terrible sinners in order to have a child born without sight. But Jesus told his disciples that was not true. In fact, he says "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." (v. 3)

Lesson for us: God always has a plan, even for the "bad" things in our life!

Jesus goes on to heal this man's blindness. Can you imagine being able to see for the first time in your life!? Wow! Unspeakable joy must have filled this man's heart.

But the Pharisees didn't see it that way. They didn't see a man filled with joy. They didn't see a man blind from birth seeing the world around him for the very first time. They didn't rejoice that God had done something amazing! What they saw instead was religion. Why? Because this wonderful miracle took place on the Sabbath. And according to their very skewed understanding of the Law of Moses, they believed Jesus was breaking the law by performing miracles on the Sabbath.

"This man [Jesus] is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." (v. 16)

UNBELIEVABLE!!

A man has just been healed of life-long blindness and all they can do is grumble. This isn't the first time they reacted to a miracle this way. In Matthew 12:9-13 Jesus heals a man's shriveled hand on the Sabbath and the Pharisees have a fit. That, my friend, is Religion. When you are so set on keeping laws and rules and finding fault with every good thing going on around you, you are the one who is blind.

"For judgement I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will be blind." ~Jesus in John 9:29

God absolutely gave us laws to abide by. Jesus himself said he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) But when those laws become greater than God, that's when we have a big ol' problem. That's when we can't see what God is doing right in front of our eyes. That's when the religiousness of being a Christian becomes greater than Christ himself.

Yikes!

I don't want to be blind. What about you?

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Today's Prayer Shout-Out countries are:
USA, Russia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Malaysia, South Africa, Slovenia, Ukraine, Israel, Latvia, Australia

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