Relationships Trump Laws

Is obeying the law better than loving your neighbor? Love God and love people.

Matthew 22:36-40  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The law is supposed to serve the relationship, not hurt it. Don’t keep the law above serving people. Luke 6 6-11:

6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Jesus healed the man out of mercy. By breaking the law, Jesus is saying relationships are more important than the laws. Laws are good and helpful in most cases, but above that is serving others out of love, mercy, faithfulness, and justice. God does love rules when it enhances the relationship, but is flexible — when the rule conflicts with the principle then the relationship trumps the law. Relationships are the most important things in life, more important than following laws.

While listening to Pastor Dave’s sermon (notes shown above), I started thinking about class/school rules and Professional Development for educators, and the words of Matt 23:23 kept repeating in my mind, “But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.”

When I started in the classroom, I set rules and by golly, I was going to keep them because I wanted to treat everyone fairly and consistently. By the end of my first year, I realized that I had to differentiate and be flexible with the “rules”, while being inflexible on loving the child. In the words of Rick Wormelifair isn’t always equal.

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Photo Credit: art makes me smile via Compfight cc

As I listened to my pastor talk about the legalism of the Pharisees, unwilling to change, as shortcutting the relationship by leaving out the internal work in order to outwardly look good in others’ eyes; I started thinking about policies in education that people are unwilling to change. I  thought about Tom Whitby’s words on Scott McLeod’s Dangerously Irrelevant post titled, “PD should be about learning, not control, compliance, and permission“:

In regard to professional development maybe it would prove more effective to have teachers demonstrate the effects of their learning, instead of a certificate for proof of seat time. That would become the portfolio of a teacher’s learning, placing more emphasis on the brain and less on the ass.

Change the rules and the routines in order to grow the people. Make others uncomfortable with change for the sake of loving others. Be inflexible with Godlike stuff. Be uncompromising with the internal Christlike qualities. Be inflexible on love, faithfulness, mercy, and justice. But, be flexible on the law.

Do you take the easy way out by following the law, allowing rules to trump relationships; or do you serve others out of love, mercy, justice, and faithfulness?

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