Upside Down

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.“Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.  I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 8:5-12

Time after time in the Bible, we see Jesus doing things that confounded his followers. Even his coming to Earth confounded people. Seeing the world from upside down is sometimes the best way to look at it. What do I mean by that?

We look at things through the eyes of logic and reason (mostly) and we have certain expectations of the world. The Jewish followers of Jesus expected that he came to save the Jews from an evil world (the Roman overlords), and to cast out those who were not rigid followers of the Jewish Laws set forth generations prior. All those who were not followers of Yahweh were to be avoided. Those religions were inferior and threatening to the religion of the True God.

Jesus confounded that thinking by giving examples of non-Jews who put rigid religious behaviors to shame. The Good Samaritan is a prime example. The Woman at the Well is another. The story from the passage cited above talks about the faith of a Centurion is another one of many.

Many religious people do much the same as the Jews did and try to make a relationship with God formulaic. Maybe having a formula helps us to feel better somehow, but rigid adherence to formulas isn’t the way that we can reach to God. He has already reached to us (another paradox) with Jesus, whose life was an example of loving those around him.

My point is that just when we think we have figured out a religious method and approach to God, he confounds us again. He says in so many words (if I may be so presumptuous as to put my words in God’s mouth!)

 “You all are overthinking this, folks. Love me by loving one another. Because I have forgiven you, and paid a high price to do so, forgive one another. Quit trying to reduce me to formulas- just go about loving one another and it will please me.”

Prayer: Lord, I trust in the simple approach to you and not tying you to formulas. Thank you for your love for us, Amen

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