“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.” (John 5:39-40, MSG)
The Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) were a blessing to the Jewish people-until they started to put the Law above anything else, that is! Love was certainly not the focus of the Jewish leaders as they made more and more rules designed to protect the law. Rather, obedience to rules was their norm, and when Jesus showed up in our neighborhood, most of them could not accept Him. Instead of focusing on the Father’s love that Jesus was broadcasting, their focus was on rules.
Humans were the ones who changed the purpose of the Scriptures. Instead of experiencing God’s love, many of them became fanatical over rules, willing to stone those who erred. How diffirent was the attitude of Jesus: “He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.” (John 1:10-12, MSG)
Over the next few months, we will follow in the steps of the gospel of John and discover our Heavenly Father’s real purpose for us. To see the extreme results of a rule-based society, however, consider this true story from World-War II:
When Hitler came into power, he began making endless rules; and anyone who chose to not follow his orders ended up dead. One man, though, opposed him as much as he could. He was an SS officer from the Third Reich. Although most of us don’t know him, he certainly made a difference in the lives of many around him. His name? Kurt Gerstein.
Gerstein was the head of the three Warden SS Technical Disinfection Services, and he saw the cruelty of the concentration camps with how own eyes. He witnessed the killing of thousands of people, when the only reason for their deaths was that their race or citizenship made them enemies of the Fuehrer. Risking his own life, he did everything possible to stop the shipments of gas directed for the gas chambers. Some he claimed were not good and would be better buried. He even contacted the allies, the Pope, the Germans and the church. He was completely against all of Hitler’s rules, which only served to decimate death everywhere. He wanted to save people, not condemn them!
Sadly, towards the end of the war, Kurt found himself in a French prison. He died July 25, 1945, and no one is certain how it happened. Did he commit suicide? Or did other SS officers silenced him forever? After all, many don’t like to hear the truth!
In His love,
(To access the entire “The Word Comes Alive” devotional series, please click here.)