The perils of religious legalism

Sunday, April 13, 2008 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

While reading the Bible recently, I came to the story of a man who Christ healed. This man got up and walked away carrying his makeshift bed (John 5:9-11). It was a great moment in this man's life and an amazing occurrence for those who witnessed it.

However, there was a problem. Some religious leaders criticized the man for carrying his bed on the Sabbath. Apparently, both Jesus and this man failed to realize their "error." Because of a distorted, legalistic view of the Sabbath, it was forbidden to carry any items on that day. The Sabbath was supposed to be a day of rest and celebration. It was never God's intent to forbid helping people in need. Jesus demonstrated his disdain for unhelpful traditions by healing the man on that day.

To this day, legalistic people and institutions continue to attack people for "carrying their beds" while failing to recognize God's grace in action. Religion without a relationship with God and love for people is ineffective at best, and harmful at worst. To often, we embrace petty unbiblical rules more than reaching out to serve others.

"Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mark 7:13)