In case anyone missed the teaching Jesus offered in Matthew 5:20:
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.Or, a reminder that following the rules the Pharisees sought to enforce was impossible, Jesus took things further in this week’s reading from Matthew 5:21-37.
It’s a rulemakers dream in this week’s reading: Murder, hate, adultery, lust, divorce, and oaths. A quote from a verse here or a verse there gives ample support for shunning, judging, chastising, and rejecting the ones who can’t live up to the rules.
And I am convinced that Jesus was seeking to get the exact opposite of that across for any who would listen.
You think you’re following the rules because you know the loopholes. But I’m telling you that it’s about more than just doing the minimum. And you have got to see that no one is going to be able to live up to these rules. Stop beating yourself up when you fail. Stop beating up other people who fail. Everyone fails at this.
And grace says that failing doesn’t mean “game over.”
If you like to enforce the rules on others, grace probably ticks you off to no end.
If you’re one who knows that everyone fails, grace is a breath of fresh air from the hot air of the enforcers.