Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 18.

What I Read Today: Luke 6.

What Stood Out: Luke 6: 43-45, “‘For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles. The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart.”

Random Thoughts About What I Read:

By late in my senior year of high school I had become acclimated to the Christian sub-culture. After a 3 year hiatus from most things Christian and a 15-year stint in the Episcopal church previous to that, well, let’s just say that my foray into a Deep South Bible church was an interesting sociological experiment, to say the least.

There were all sorts of things that I had to get up to speed with. For example, EVERYONE carried their Bible and took notes in the margins (my Episcopal church had them in the rack on the pew in front of us) and the pastor never said anything we were supposed to respond to…and no kneeling went on. But carrying the Bible was expected.

Short hair on guys–no earrings, and modest dress for girls was pretty much expected.
Certain rock bands were verboten. Pop music seemed to be given a moderate pass as long as cursing wasn’t involved.
10%, even for high schoolers.
Republican leanings were a must, even for high schoolers. If there were Democrats, I never knew about them.
No R-rated movies.
And so it goes.

And we were good kids for the most part and played by the rules. I went by them for the most part, even if they seemed foreign to me. Most of my friends seemed okay with them, too.

Until my first group of serious friends went off to college.

Chaos ensued.

When I followed a year later and ran into my Deep South Bible church friends at fraternity rush, well, let’s just say that all the rules changed. See, I’d gotten some advice on finding a church and a small group of Bible study guys as soon as possible. This was pretty easy since a bunch of my high school Bible study guys went to the same university and all we had to do was find a leader for 6 guys who were good kids for the most part and played by the rules. That proved pretty easy.

Anyway, during fraternity rush my first group of serious friends had been gone a year and used their contacts to recruit new members to their fraternities.

Let’s just say that these guys weren’t playing by the same rules as was evident by their tales of skirt-chasing, beer drinking and other sorts of excess…and using this as a selling-point to join their fraternity. They all got the prettiest girls, threw the best parties and all that jazz.

It wasn’t long after that I read Francis Schaeffer for the first time (that leader who was looking for 6 guys to disciple took his job pretty seriously if he’s got college freshman reading Francis Schaeffer in their spare time, right?). A quote stood out and there were several variations that went something like “Inner realities have outward manifestations.” I know. Common sense is cutting-edge.

If the first year of college was any indication regarding my first group of serious friends that went off from my Deep South Bible church, we’d done a pretty good job of keeping a list of rules but eventually the truth came out: Our faith wasn’t that real. What was real was that we could manage our behavior well enough to keep our parents off our backs.

That’s what Jesus was saying in Luke 6.

The chapter starts with the Pharisees checking up on Jesus. I can’t say for sure if they were “spies” sent to find out what Jesus was up to or if they were curious enough to simply be around where He was teaching, but my guess is they were looking for trouble given that He’d come to the countryside to escape being thrown off a cliff.

So, as He was walking along with His disciples on the Sabbath, they picked up some wheat and prepared it for consumption. Now, it’s important to note that Jesus didn’t violate any Biblical law here…just a cultural interpretation by priests designed to keep people from breaking a Biblical law. Er. Um. Behavioral management.

A-HA! Pharisees have Him, right?

Er. Not so much. Jesus had a little sermon ready about King David’s example of eating sacred bread. So, if Jesus is guilty, so is King David. Yeah. The Pharisees revered King David so now they’ve got to bow to his precedent.

And then…

…get this…

…Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath and a person went up with a withered hand and Jesus HEALED the withered hand.

A-HA! The Pharisees have Him now, right? Working on the Sabbath!

Er. Um. Did you happen to miss the reality that a real, live human being had a hand that wouldn’t work and while you were standing there Jesus said a few things and NOW HIS HAND WORKS???!!!! I mean, I get pretty amped when I pray for someone’s surgery to go well and it does and they’re healed by a doctor’s skill. This is a full-blown miracle that happened right in front of them!

Let’s just say the Pharisees were not at all amped by the healing. I think the phrase used in the Bible is “out of their minds with rage.”

See, what’s inside of them came pouring out of them. It’s inevitable.

These men had been living their lives in the highly educated religious elite leadership. They were supposed to stand for God. Instead of rejoicing that God was at work through this prophet and this man before them had been healed, they wanted to kill the threat to their way of doing business.

And that theme seems to run through Luke 6. The sermon on the plain was likely a sermon that Jesus repeated often, hence the similarities to the more well-known Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the poor. Woe to the rich. Love your enemies because anyone can love folks they like. Don’t judge the hearts of others. Work on yourself and your own heart. Forgive others. Show mercy. Take the log out of your own eye before you go looking at specks in other’s eyes.

A shot at folks who want to call a Sabbath foot-fault when they’re guilty of not showing love and mercy and forgiveness, maybe?

And that’s what runs through my brain today.

A tree will bear fruit. The fruit-making stuff deep inside of a tree will eventually run from the roots through the trunk to the branches to the orange or apple or whatever you see in front of you. Oranges or apples don’t come through thorns bushes. Whatever is inside of you will have outward manifestations.

So, today, I’m thinking about ways to guard my heart and mind and working on me and “doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God.” Not managing my behavior so people will think I’m good.

And that difference is messy and staggering and freeing.

(Tomorrow’s Reading: Luke 7-8)