Integrity or …. ?

Laws exist to fill in the gap and police the failure of character. Laws can never do what the integrity values can do; they are simply a ‘back-up’ system”.   Henry Cloud

In Jesus’ ministry this clash between integrated character and the “back-up” system of laws was starkly illustrated in Luke 13:10-17. Jesus’ integrated character and his empathy, observance of the negative and his orientation towards truth, increase and transcendence come together to deliver a result. Despite knowing the objections about his habit of healing on the Sabbath Day Jesus very publicly heals a woman inflicted with a psychological illness.

The president of the synagogue publicly lambasts Jesus for his failure to observe the law. Rob Bell suggests “when we see religious communities spending most of their time trying to convince people not to sin, we are seeing a community that has missed the point. The point isn’t sin management; the point is who we are now”.[2]

With a whole and healed woman rejoicing at his Sabbath deeds, Jesus responds. He points out the hypocrisy of the Sabbatarians who would save their animal on the Sabbath (or in other words look after their economic interests) but took umbrage at the restoration of a daughter of Abraham who had lived in their midst for the eighteen years of her affliction. Unspoken here is his bemusement that they’d lived so long with her condition but would still take exception to the method of her restoration.

This was a very public discussion held in the public place of the synagogue and the public response to this clash of ideology between the integrated man and the parsimonious law-keeper is instructive. His opponent was put to shame and the ‘crowd were thrilled’ (Luke 13:17).

High Halter writes:

the wall between Christ followers and those fed up with religious hypocrisy is thick and high. The public are weary of Christian rhetoric, judgement, exclusiveness and hypocrisy. The walls of assumptions will only come down as entire communities band together to live like Christ before the world.”[3]

[2] Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2005): Kindle Location 2013

[3] Hugh Halter, Sacrilege: Finding Life in the Unorthodox Ways of Jesus (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) Kindle Location 1662

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