I recently visited an old friend who lives way out at the end of a Northern California country road. As I got out of my car and approached his house I noticed an enormous Saint Bernard sitting in the shade of a great old oak tree. More importantly, I noticed him noticing me. As they are the ones you always see in photos at the ready with a small keg of brandy fastened to their collars for the random fallen skier, I was under the impression that this particular brand of canine is a laid back human-friendly sort. I abandoned that impression at first snarl. This animal was no “saint”!
Though he outweighed me by a great deal he advanced toward me, lumbering faster than I retreated running backward. Just as he lunged for me I screamed like a little girl, so claimed my friend. (I’m pretty sure he made that up.) Anyhow, as the creature rose to his hind legs the industrial strength chain that held him fast to the sturdy old tree trunk magically stopped him cold and all but broke his neck in the process!
Religious rule keepers are those who depend on laws, like chains, to hold back their ferocious nature. The chains don’t turn their evil predispositions into something good––from vicious Pit Bulls into gentle Collies––they just restrain them from doing more harm than good. It’s the strength of the chain not the nature of the dog that keeps them in check. Jesus came not to upgrade the rules by giving us a bigger chain; instead he transforms our nature into something increasingly better.
This is an excerpt from a book I hope to publish in the near future on the Sermon on the Mount called: What In The World? Some Moral, Social, and Politically Disruptive Implications of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
As such, I’d appreciate your feedback on this post and others to come in order to make the final copy publish-worthy.