Last Sunday after church, I mentioned to my husband that I needed to stop at Target to pick up a bag of chocolate chips. I wanted to make cookies for a new neighbor who had moved in three houses up the street. But I stopped mid-sentence as I explained my plans to Brad. “Oh,” I said. “I’m not supposed to shop or work on the Sabbath. So stopping at Target and baking cookies breaks the Sabbath. Twice.” [I’ve been practicing keeping the Sabbath for about five months now, and my “rules” include no shopping, no writing, no technology and no housework]
“That’s not breaking the Sabbath,” Brad answered as walked across the parking lot to the car. “Remember what Jesus did? He broke the Sabbath when he healed the man’s hand. He was making a point about helping and healing being more important than following all the rules. Doing something nice for someone isn’t breaking the Sabbath.”
I thought about what Brad said for a few minutes. I know it was only a bag of Tollhouse chips and a mixing bowl of dough, but it felt a little risky to me, breaking the Sabbath to bake. I’m a rule follower, you see. Rules keep me on the right path. They’re black and white. You’re never surprised if you know the rules. Rule-following might be boring, it might be routine. But scary? Unknown? Unexpected? Never. You know what’s coming when you follow the rules.
What I realized though, as I stood in the church parking lot with the keys in my hand, was that Jesus wasn’t ruled by the black-and-white. Jesus was a radical rule-breaker. He befriended the outcasts. He ate with the sinners. He healed on the Sabbath. Jesus was far less concerned about rules than he was about love. For Jesus, love decided everything. Love was the bottom line.
So I stopped at Target and bought the chocolate chips. And later that evening Noah and I walked up the street to the white bungalow with the empty boxes piled at the end of the driveway. We stood on the front porch and rang the doorbell, and when the young woman answered, we handed over a paper plate of cookies still warm from the oven. We welcomed her to the neighborhood with a plate piled high with love.
“For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law – I stopped trying to meet all its requirements – so that I might live for God.” (Galatians 2:19)
Questions for Reflection:
Are you a rule-follower or a rule-breaker? Have you ever broken a rule – Sabbath or other – in favor of acting in loving kindness? What’s one rule you might break this week in order to help, heal or love someone else?
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