Is It Lawful

Here we see Jesus going to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees. As much as they hated him and he preached against them and their ways, we would not expect them to dine together as many times as they do in the Gospels.

In one word, what was Jesus's point of contention with the Pharisees? Legalism. They had spent lives in the pursuit of knowledge of their God's Scriptures, even if they had accidentally missed getting to know God himself. God speaks to this many times throughout the Old and New Testaments.

In Hosea, as Jesus quotes a verse later, the LORD says, "I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." The whole point of the new covenant with Jesus was to fulfill and complete the spirit of the Law, which was not the rituals and traditions practiced by "good Jews", but was the search to know God himself.

This message is applicable to the Church worldwide. We humans so easily forget. Like us, the Dong people struggle with this issue, especially coming from a life of animism. We would rather allow somebody to tell us what to believe, to be handed the rules of our religion, and to follow them.

Some Dong people are beginning to believe in Christ, but precious few seek a relationship with the Father like Jesus had. So many are obsessing on starting "training centers", on teaching others who are "younger in the faith", on providing enough baptisms for their foreign teachers to see, or on praying their prayers like other Chinese Christians. None of these things are necessarily bad, but when not in service to becoming one with Christ himself, they become empty tasks.

Pray the Dong would cast aside the religious cares of this world and instead strive to know God, to commune with Christ, to dwell in the Holy Spirit.

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