Which Rules? Whose Values?
by Rob Weingartner
Many years ago I read about a most unusual bicycle race in India. The object of the race was to travel the shortest distance possible, in a given period of time, without falling off one’s bicycle.
Now, imagine if you showed up for the race but didn’t know the rules. The starting pistol would fire and away you’d go – to a remarkable defeat!
The scenario reminds me that it is important to know the rules.
People adopt and adapt to all sorts of different rules for how they will try to live their lives. And as that plays out, around us and even in our own lives, we see that it is possible to be a brilliant success in the eyes of the world and a failure in the things that are important to God.
Throughout his ministry Jesus had a way of throwing people off balance – by breaking their rules and calling them to live by a different set of values.
He’d say things disturbing things like: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.… The one who would be greatest among you must become the servant of all.… I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.”
Those in authority struggled with Jesus because they couldn’t contain him in their religious boxes; they couldn’t keep him coloring inside the lines. To mix metaphors, they couldn’t even keep him on the home team’s turf. He was always heading off to places like Tyre and Sidon. He went to the pagan territory of Gadara. He even took the disciples on a kind of retreat up north to Caesarea Phillipi on the slopes of Mt. Hermon, a place dedicated to the worship of Caesar and the god Pan.
Jesus was always moving through the conventional barriers, moving out and reaching through customary cultural boundaries to demonstrate what the Kingdom and God’s radical grace are all about – reaching out to disclose the very character of God.
Jesus won’t be managed. But he can be followed.