We were putting our first child into the public school system at the seventh grade. We homeschooled for philosophical and educational purposes but had always said, “We’re preparing our kids for the world, not merely protecting them from the world,” and it was time to mainstream our kid.
As we brought the paperwork to the office, the lady at the desk said, I see here your daughter got her shots the day before her first birthday. “That is correct,” my wife responded. Then she proceeded to tell us of the policy that required all shots to be on or after the first birthday. In other words, we were a day early and therefore would have to retake the shots in order to enroll our child. This was a district policy and there was no wiggle room, after all if you let one person by because it was the day before then what about two days then three days then utter chaos.
My wife could feel my blood begin to boil, it was ridiculous. I was already envisioning myself in the superintendent’s office. Jody gently put her hand on my arm and politely said thank you, and we compliantly rescheduled shots for my daughter.
Jesus breaks the rules. He heals on the Sabbath, he walks on water, he talks to the woman at the well, he pays the same wage to the full-day worker and to the person who works only one hour, he leaves the 99 and goes after the one.
I love this about Jesus. He gets messy, and while one size fits all in our bureaucratic world because it’s easier and neater, he uniquely assesses our needs and does what is going to draw us closer to him.
When we have different rules for some than others, we are unfair. When we are angry at the prodigal for getting grace when we followed the rules, it reveals our heart. It’s not about the rules; it’s about the person and the whatever-means-necessary type of grace required to draw him near.
This disregard for the rules would lead to chaos, you say?
But God is a God who creates order out of chaos.
This is impractical, you say.
So is an expensive bottle of perfume to wash someone’s feet.
This is unfair.
I don’t want fair, I want mercy and grace.
Rules lead to compliance or rebellion, and no one can keep the rules because all sin and fall short. Grace leads to appreciation and devotion because he who has been forgiven much loves much.
I’m not advocating lawlessness, but the spirit of the law transcends the law. Revolution is breaking of the rules in order to keep the heart and soul of the law.
So back to my scenario. What if the woman at the desk was fully empowered to say, “While I cannot do this all the time, it seems reasonable that your daughter’s shots are in accordance with the intent of our policy”? She would be empowered, and I’d be grateful, and the sun would still rise.
What if in our relationships, we offered grace? What if we celebrated “unfair?” For example, thank you, Lord. I’m healthy and educated, with running water and food. What if we loved and lived like Jesus? It would be all messy and lead to suffering and eventually the chaos of a cross, our cross. Take up your cross daily and follow Me.