Memo 984: Locked On
It's time to return to our theme of unlocking the power of your thinking after a holiday break. Romans 12:2 states, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Since the business of the mind is thinking, then to experience the transformation we often seek, we must think new thoughts, confronting current ones to see where they limit us from doing God's will. This week, let's look at some thinking on the part of the Jews that caused them to misinterpret what Jesus did in Mark 3 because they locked on to thought "God would never do that" and thus locked out other possibilities. Let's get started.
HEALING ON THE SABBATH
In Mark 2, Jesus had just violated the Sabbath, or so the Pharisees thought, when He and His disciples had picked some heads of grain. Then Mark reported another Sabbath incident immediately following:
Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus (Mark 3:1-6).
Jesus did not lead the man with the shriveled hand out the back door of the synagogue to heal him, nor did He request that the man come back on Sunday or Monday. When Jesus asked the observers a question, they remained silent, which angered Jesus because He knew what their silence meant. Therefore, He openly challenged the onlookers' interpretation of Sabbath regulations by healing the man right in front of everyone.
Today, we are a bit taken aback by the response of the people who were in "church" that day. They did not run home to summon a close relative who had a similar condition the man's had. They did not request that Jesus not heal on the Sabbath, but instead come back on Tuesday when they could assemble others who needed a physical touch. They did not shake the man's restored hand and rejoice in his restoration, Instead, they had a quick confab to process and discuss what had just happened and agreed that "Jesus must die!" What's more, they conspired with the Herodians, those who supported the presence of the Romans through their puppet king Herod, and put out a contract on Jesus' life.
GOD WOULD NEVER . . .
This story reveals an approach to the Sabbath that stipulated little to nothing was to be done on that day for fear of alienating and offending God—a noble thought. Yet once they locked on to their rigid interpretation, they locked out any other possibility. When Jesus healed a man, healed him right in front of their eyes by restoring a dysfunctional limb, the crowd did not see and could not appreciate what had occurred. Their thought was "God would never heal on the Sabbath" and thus they concluded Jesus was a Sabbath-breaker deserving of capital punishment.
Yet the stories in the gospels are not just an historical account for our entertainment. They are stories with lessons for our own lives, for we are just as susceptible to the thinking of the Jews who were in the synagogue. We can lock on to our thoughts and lock out any other possibility, thus opposing instead of appreciating what God is teaching us. For example, you may hold on to a job you hate or where you are mistreated because you think, "I need this job, or 'I've had this job 20 years and get an extra week's vacation next year." Thus, God's attempts to move you to something better are to no avail.
Your thoughts about yourself or your abilities can also thwart God's desire to use you because you demean or diminish the effect you could have on others due to your stubborn resistance to a limited or skewed perspective on who you are in Him. You have been told you're a good artist, but you have locked on to the fact that you are not. You would like to travel and do missions work, but have convinced yourself you don't travel well or are to poor to do so—locking on to your lack instead of your Source. Like the Jews, you think "God would never—fund my trip, or use me in that way, or use my creativity to bless and minister to others."
Where have you seen God move, in your life or the lives of others, yet you conspire with others to stay right where you are (listening to your friends tell you how that 'can't be God') to keep doing what you have always done? Where has your doctrine, which is nothing more than what you think about God's will, actually limited or frustrated God's purpose for you? How have you taken what you hear and worked it in your mind to conclude "God would never do or what that—in my life or the lives of others"? These are difficult questions to ask and the potential answers can be painful to face, but you must learn to confront and change your own thoughts and conclusions if you are to continue to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of God for your life. Have a blessed week!