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The Heart of the Matter


According to some psychologists, most people lean toward being either rule-followers or rule-breakers. I tend to lean toward rule-breaker. Until recently in my new role, where I am supposed to be a rule enforcer; mostly. I suppose I became a rule-breaker in rebellion to my father who was a rule-follower (no matter what). In order to accomplish things, I tend question, look for other ways, try new ways or bend the rules.

Some of you may identify with me, while others might be offended at the idea of not following every rule. Trust me, I get it. Some have a high responsibility gene embedded inside; they are “play it by the book” people. It’s a good thing to have them around to keep our world from being more chaotic than it is!

Interestingly enough, Jesus is both a rule follower and a rule breaker. Sometimes breaking or bending a rule: “On a certain Sabbath Jesus was walking through a field of ripe grain. His disciples were pulling off heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands to get rid of the chaff, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing that, breaking a Sabbath rule?” Luke 6:1-2

Other times, Jesus upholds or fulfills a rule: “They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Mark 12:16-17

Jesus was both a rule-breaker and a rule-follower. But mostly, Jesus focuses on the internal things of the heart. He doesn’t list a bunch of rules; Jesus goes beyond our outward actions and asks what is in our hearts. Jesus is both law and grace. Jesus is both heart and heads. Jesus is both mind and spirit. Jesus is the great “both” and “and”! Jesus’ religious rule breaking led him to the cross. His attending to the heart of God raised him in resurrection for the sake of the world.

In this season of Lent we are called to examine our lives; to ask for forgiveness, repent and believe. Yet, remember it goes deeper than rule following or rule breaking. It goes to our hearts! It goes to the heart of God which leads with grace.

In the book of Acts the Apostle (15:10) Paul asks, “So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too? Don’t we believe that we are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us just as he did those from beyond our nation?

We are saved by faith in God’s grace! That’s the heart of the matter! Paul finishes by saying “So what are we arguing about?” There was dead silence. No one said a word. With the room quiet, Barnabas and Paul reported matter-of-factly on the miracles and wonders God had done among the other nations through their ministry. The silence deepened; you could hear a pin drop.

May we experience the heart of God’s grace this Easter and post-Easter so we too experience the miracles and wonders of God.