September 16, 2019
Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment.
(Luke 5:36 NLT)
Cutting Holes in new Shirts Religion
I got a great deal on a couple of summer shirts while outlet shopping with Susan. 80% off an already reduced price made my shallow heart sing. You’d think I am crazy if the first time I used the shirts I cut a hole in one to repair a hole in another of my more vintage ones.
And yet this is one slightly mad picture Jesus paints of the religious practice he faced day after day. Well-meaning, disciplined, rigorous application of a very particular understanding of His Father not only looked crazy to him but futile.
Lately, with all the intense exchanges I see around social and moral issues I wonder if we sometimes aren’t cutting up good shirts to repair old ones. Rigour was important to Jesus – he died for his cause after all. But reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and mercy were old standards that had been lost in the shirt-cutting religion.
A moment of reflection on how easily we hold our ideas to be God’s ideas might cause us to pause for a moment of humility and see if we are, in Jesus’ words, “children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”.
A Prayer for Today
It’s not my brother nor my sister but it’s me, O Lord:
standing in the need of prayer.
We are so warm in our own self-esteem
that we freeze the folk around us.
We get so high in our own estimation
that we stand isolated on a mountaintop of self-righteousness.
That is why You came: Lord Jesus:
not to save the lecherous but to turn the righteous to repentance.
And it is me, O Lord.
(Excerpt from “Where Freedom Is, and Laughter” G MacLeod The Whole earth Shall Cry Glory)