In recent months as I worked to solidify my understanding of God's heart toward those in our society who are marginalized, oppressed and demonized by the church, I turned - of course - to the Gospels, the biographies of Jesus' life and teachings. These writings are, allegedly, the centerpiece of Christian understanding about how we follow this radical Rabbi.

It appears, however, that most of us American Christians behave as if we've never read even one of these accounts. We tend to trounce all over other human beings in Jesus' name.

So, as I was reading the Gospel of Mark, pondering what it might mean for me to break a "religious rule" in order to love people, I was struck anew by the fact that I barely made it out of the first chapter of Mark before I see Jesus breaking rule after rule in order to love people.

How do we miss this? How do I forget this?

Jesus broke the rules - religious rules, Old Testament rules and laws - to make people whole. Mostly people who had been ostracized and outcast by the religious leaders of Jesus' day.

Here is what I read:

  • Jesus heals Simon Peter's mother-in-law on the Sabbath. (Rule broken)
  • Jesus goes on to heal what Mark calls "the whole city" also on the Sabbath. (Rule broken - a few times!)
  • Jesus touched a leper. (Rule broken)
  • Jesus forgives the sin of a paralyzed man. (HUGE rule broken)
  • Jesus invites a despised tax collector to be one of his disciples and then he (gasp!) eats and drinks with a whole bunch of this tax collector's loser friends. (Rule(s) broken)
  • And just to drive the point home, while not even to the third chapter of his Gospel, Mark tells a story of Jesus and his followers eating wheat publicly on the sacred Sabbath. (Rule INTENTIONALLY broken)

"Ok," I said to myself, "point taken."

Of course we do not promote anarchy or lawlessness. Of course not. We have the law of Jesus written on our hearts - Love God with all you've got and love your neighbor as yourself. No exceptions.

Sometimes, Jesus broke the rules to love his hurting neighbor.

Sometimes, we do, too.

I broke the rules for love. No regrets.

Love, not Law, always wins.