Releasing People From Their Bondage

Jan. 21, 2021.

Routine and status quo are powerful things in human behavior. They create habits, and these habits quickly become unquestioned. We seamlessly engage in thoughts and deeds today just because we did them yesterday. But every once in a while, something new is needed, and the assumptions of yesterday are not sufficient. Can we learn to recognize and make room for these moments?

#JesusStories: One day Jesus went to a synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10-17). While he was teaching his eyes caught a woman nearby who was permanently bent over so that she couldn’t even look up. Jesus stopped teaching, called her over to him, and healed her. Immediately she stood up straight and started to glorify God. But the ruler of the synagogue was upset because Jesus had “worked” on the Sabbath. He made his position clear that there are six other days in the week to do this sort of thing, but on the Sabbath, only teaching and worshipful things were to be done. Jesus had to confront this leader as a hypocrite because he would water his animals on a Sabbath but was willing to deny this woman freedom from an 18-year oppression that was ruling and ruining her life. This synagogue leader had become so focused on his religious duties for God that he had forgotten to work with God in the moment. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, Christian leaders all around us have been doing church so routinely that they have forgotten what their church practices are supposed to be doing – releasing people from their bondage.

Thirty-some years ago I was standing before my church teaching a Bible study when a man walked up and stood right in front of me. I knew who he was; this mans wife had attended our church for years and I had met him once during a home visit. Frankly, I was surprised he was at our church that day. He was very critical of his wife’s Christianity, and in fact was an “onry ole cuss”. But now he stood five feet in front of my podium while I was trying to speak. I finally had to acknowledge him and asked if he needed anything. He said, “I’ve been watching the news…and the bombs that are dropping in Iran this week…and I think it is time for me to get right with God.” Whoa! This is one of those moments a preacher lives for, right? But I remember pausing before I answered him. After all, I had prepared for hours on that teaching, and he was interrupting me before I even got to point two. His divine moment was cutting in on my prepared spiritual service. Now I’m glad to report that I was able to snap out of it, stop teaching, and lead that man to Jesus right in front of everyone. But I still remember that halting feeling; doing church had momentarily gotten in the way of restoring this man. Has the routines of doing church ever disrupted you from your real calling? We need to pause and remember that the God-Family is in the rescue business, and SO ARE WE!

#DinnerChurchQuotes: “If Israel failed to honor the Lord (Deut. 6:4-9; 8) and care for the oppressed (Exod. 23:1-9), their land would be taken from them. Indeed, this is the most striking characteristic of Biblical Justice.” -Ron Sider.

#PracticalStuff: Can you help us grow this weekly conversation? If there is a church leader or family members in your orbit that you believe would be benefited by this blog and subsequent comments, please invite them to join. I sense that a great harvest is approaching at tidal wave speeds, and I want many, many, many Jesus Tables ready to respond. Would you please forward this to a couple people today? And invite them to sign-up?

Blessings & Boldness,

Verlon

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