Saturday, March 31, 2007

Loopholes in the Law?

Loopholes were added to castle walls sometime around the end of the 12th century. They were placed there so that someone could shoot from behind the walls without being exposed to enemy fire.

Well, it's April tomorrow, and those who haven't done their taxes will be hunting for the loopholes to hide behind as the IRS begins to storm our personal castles.

I've been teaching through the Sermon on the Mount, and I came to Mattthew 5:21-26, and began to study this passage which initiates 5 straight sections which begin with the words, “You have heard that it was said,” and responsively continues with, “But I say to you.” What is it that Jesus is teaching us as He recites the law, and then goes on to assert even stronger commands? Could it be that He has seen men use the law like rich men using loopholes in the tax codes? Could it be that they kept the law, but missed the point?

Did the religious leaders of Jesus day use the law for personal gain, and find loopholes to keep the letter of the law, meanwhile shooting through those same loopholes to wound the weak? When Jesus tells us that righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, and scribes is He seeing those religious leaders as wicked oppressors who keep the letter of the law, but miss the heart of that matter?

This makes me view this section of the Sermon on the Mount differently. No longer do I see it simply as an impossible, and insurmountable righteousness which causes me to run to Christ for redemption (Yes, I still see that in this teaching), but now I also see Jesus assailing the castle walls of corrupt religion in His day, and He felt the bite of the arrows which flew through those cross-shaped holes in religion's defenses.

What corruption might He assail today? What corporate structure defends men's vices, and allows them to still look good? Are there loopholes in our religion? Are there loopholes in our occupations? Are there loopholes in our lives? I can think of some in my life. How about you?


cern said...

Yep, loopholes, or excuses for why we should do what we want rather than what we should. Using tricks and twists in logic to manipulate things to our own liking.

The trick is catching ourselves doing this kind of thing before we go too far with it.

There is something greater in really working at a complete honesty. It's a different kind of personal gain where the rewards are shared, yet undiminished for the sharing. The personal gain bit appeals to our sense of immediate gratification. But it doesn't really last. We have to keep on playing the games, using the loopholes in order to sustain the same feeling. Honesty is actually easier once you get onto it. :)



Shiloh Guy said...

Hey Phil!

I'm still reading you! Just haven't had much to say lately. You seem to cover the point so well that I don't have anything to add!

The biggest loophole in my life is the "little sins." I.e. It is too easy to consign what we might refer to as "insignificant" sins to a category all their own! I can see how we actually create convenient loopholes.

I've been thinking about caring for the earth lately. My personal opinion is (don't tell anyone) that Christians are obligated to care for our environment. Failure to love God's creation is sin (I think). I have always been pretty "green" but I saw An Inconvenient Truth a couple of weeks ago. If being "green" means I have to buy into ALL of the stuff that film presented as "fact" then I'm in trouble. But that still doesn't give me permission to disregard caring for God's earth!


Pastor Phil said...

"There is something greater in really working at a complete honesty. It's a different kind of personal gain where the rewards are shared, yet undiminished for the sharing."


Great line!

Pastor Phil said...

Good to e- you Dave,

Our little sins are so often designed to protect ourselves, and somehow we attack others through them at the same time. I wonder how little they really are?