I bet you think you are right.

A friend of mine likes to say, “I’m wrong more often than I am right. But at least I am right more often than everyone else.” I can’t figure out if he is being humble or prideful. Either way it shows the basic human desire to be right. 

No one likes to be wrong. Especially when we are put in a position where we disagree with someone else. No, we want to be right and to show that the other person is wrong. There must be some survival of the fittest stuff going on there. 

In the gospel this weekend, Peter is about as right as person can be. Jesus asks his followers who they think he is. Peter boldly answers that Jesus is the Christ. Wow. He couldn’t be more right. It took a lot of guts to answer at all and much more to call Jesus the chosen savior of humankind. 

Jesus explains that he will have to suffer, be reject, and killed all by the people he is trying to save. Peter pulls Jesus aside and rebukes Jesus for saying these things. What does Jesus do? He turns right back around and denounces Peter in front of everyone by saying, “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking as God does, but has human beings do.” Yikes. Jesus says that Peter is so much of an obstacle to accomplish the Jesus’ mission, it is as if Peter is Satan. Rough. No one wants to be that wrong about anything. 

When it comes to being wright or wrong, I think the important thing to remember is that we don’t determine what is right and wrong. We are not the arbiters of truth. The gospel shows that it is Jesus who determines what is right and wrong.

Too often we try and focus on WHO is right and WHO is wrong. This takes truth and makes it subjective to the people involved. 

God is the one and only author of truth. If we want to be holy and happy, then we must submit to the reality that only God determines truth. 

Live It: Open your Bible and read John 8:31-32 ten times in a row. Read slowly and purposefully. Extra credit if you read it out loud. 

Don’t have a Bible? You can find John 8:31-32 here.

Sunday Readings for September 12, 2021.

No Rules. No Right.

GWSteakImage.jpg

I have eaten my fair share of bloomin’ onions. I’ve sat and wondered if they actually have steak houses down under. I’ve sipped a frothy beverage and annoyingly repeated lines from Crocodile Dundee while waiting for my food. What I mean to say is, I’ve eaten at Outback Steakhouse. 

A while ago their tagline was “No Rules. Just Right.” This has always struck me as odd. Sure it captures what I can only presume is a rebellious Australian spirit. No rules. Yet, just as we are fully bought into the no rules aspect of dining, they get you with the just right. I think this was to give the impression that your steak would be cooked just right. It could also mean everything about one’s experience at Outback would be – just right. 

Both halves of this tagline are lies. The varied ways that Outback Steakhouses aren’t “just right” are probably self revelatory. But the real hypocrisy is first half of the line “No rules.”  The moment you get up from the table and try to leave without paying, you will quickly find that there are indeed rules. If you were to throw your cutlery on the floor or mistreat the staff or bother other patrons, they will show you the door for breaking the, well, rules. 

Further, If you order a steak Medium Rare (as one should), the only reason it would come out cooked to the state of Medium Rare is because the chef followed the rules of how long or hot to cook the steak. If your steak was black and charcoaly and you sent it back to the kitchen, you could do so only because there are, in fact, rules about steaks and steakhouses. 

Some people think Jesus threw out all the rules. Some believe Jesus tells us we don’t need and shouldn’t follow rules. They might even come to the opinion that rules are for pharisees and reactionaries (they would be partially right here). It is as if they believe the tagline of Christianity is “No Rules. Just Christ.”

As attractive as that line might be (especially to us Americans), it isn’t very Biblical and doesn’t follow our Tradition. This Sunday’s gospel shows us that Jesus didn’t come to destroy the rules, but to fulfill them. He preaches clearly and decisively that not only are the rules not too harsh and shouldn’t be abandoned, but in fact the rules don’t go far enough. If the old rule was that violence against your neighbor was bad, Jesus ups the ante to anger with your fellow man is wrong. He goes on to increase the demand in several other areas. 

Jesus teaches us that it isn’t that the rules should be dismissed, but the rules will never be enough to establish the Kingdom and save our souls. In fact, Jesus preaches the radical and difficult reality that we are not enough. He says that we can never do enough to earn salvation or approval. It is only God who is enough who can save us in the face of the high bar of following Jesus Christ. 

Should we follow the rules of following Jesus? Absolutely. Should we only follow the the bare minimum of the rules? Absolutely not. The rules are good and we must abide, but we must go on to love and love well. When asked what is the greatest rule, love for God and love for neighbor was Jesus’ answer. 

Live it: Make a rule for yourself to follow for one week. Try something like: Drink only water. or No TV. or Say “Hi!” to everyone you walk past. or Introduce yourself to strangers. See what works. Maybe you’ll fine something new for Lent this year. 

Sunday Readings for February 16th, 2020.