January 21, 2021
Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” Luke 6:9
Dear Lake B family and friends,
The passage above is framed, in part, by the question of Sabbath, with religious leaders trying to understand how to reconcile what is good with what is lawful, and trying to trick Jesus into a conflict with the law. Good luck with that, right?
I think the historical challenge this passage poses for the Church can be boiled down to one question: how do we understand what is right and what is good?
How does the Church engage in matters of human rights and dignity for all people? Is it lawful? Should the Church at least have a position? Communities of faith are deeply divided over questions of “right and wrong” and “good and bad” relating to social issues. But we cannot shy away from the discussion when peoples’ lives are at stake.
“Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath? To save life or destroy it?”
In this passage Jesus addresses what the law says about the sabbath. The question for the Church goes further: what is right and what is good? I appreciate this interaction with the religious establishment, especially as it makes clear that there is no conflict between right and good in God’s law.
The incarnation of God in Christ shows us what is lawful and good. Jesus constantly reframes and reinterprets how “right” is fulfilled in “good,” especially when demonstrated in love for others and concern for the poor and those who are treated unjustly. Right and good go hand-in-hand in God’s economy; they do not conflict.
(I want to acknowledge that this may feel uncomfortable, like shaky ground for those of us (including me) who now find ourselves having to examine carefully and even discard things we’ve been told and taught about right and good. To borrow last week’s metaphor, that’s some deep water.)
So, what is right according to God and God’s word? What is good? Do our answers point to freedom and the fullness of life for all? The ministry and work of Lake B requires us to wrestle with these questions in authenticity and humility, trusting that the Spirit of God will meet us at every turn.
And I think we find ourselves back to the question, who are we becoming? I believe we are becoming people who are willing to engage in hard questions about “right” and “good,” not just for conversation’s sake, but in order to live out, and put into action, the Gospel that is good news for all people.
We very much look forward to hearing more about the Luke 6 passage from David Meade, Liz Jenson and Miguel Escobar this Sunday. Please join us on Facebook Live (services are recorded) if you can!
Grace and peace,