“And He said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition’” (Mark 7:9).
Rather than dwell on the specific instance Jesus mentions of evading the commandment, I would like to draw attention to His admiration of their abilities when He says, "You have a fine way." J.B. Phillips translates this, "It is wonderful to see how." Jesus may have been speaking in sarcasm, but regardless of how He spoke, He was pointing to the sophisticated effort the religious people made in order to disobey. Jesus quoted Isaiah, “This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”
Non-religious people do not need sophisticated reasons to disobey. They deliberately disobey, or remain ignorant of the commandments, or just do not care. Religious people come up with involved reasons to make their own wrongs look right. But they are not satisfied unless they also teach it. I have used the word religious instead of Christian, but this also is true of Christians.
Here is a suggestion. Be aware of the commands as you read the New Testament (there are many: see Colossians 3 and 1 Thessalonians 5 for examples) and then write down your explanation of them. Is it an involved explanation of why you do not have to obey?
This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us!
Written December 1985.