To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. 2 Samuel 22:27 (NLT)

We were built for relationship. Our very heart, our very being revolves around how we perceive others feelings towards us, and how we feel about them. When centered on the emotional, relationships rarely focus on facts. It’s feelings that matter. When centered on facts alone, relationships become works centered. What you do to or for me means everything to the relationship. Motives don’t matter, actions do.

One day Jesus healed a man that was born blind and unable to speak. At the touch of his hand, Jesus restored his speech and gave him sight. The man praised God. The people stood amazed and praised God. The Pharisees however; the religious elite; the men who ‘knew the way to God’ better than anyone else, were not only skeptical, they were critical.

“He’s a tool of Satan”, they said. “This is nothing more than blasphemy”, the challenged. “God doesn’t work like this; God has no part in any of this atrocity!”

The gospel writer states “But Jesus knew their thoughts…” (Matthew 11:25)

It wasn’t the accusations that Jesus took issue with, it was their hearts because he knew that thoughts don’t originate on the external, they originate from the heart, from the soul, from the very being of man.

Why the different reaction between the religious establishment and the man who’d been healed? In a word: relationship. Religion is and always will be built on rules and actions. They saw Jesus as a threat to their power, a reason for concern because he would take away their power and status.

“Do this and that will happen; don’t do this or this will happen.”

Relationship heals. Relationship encourages. Relationship makes one better as they leave than they were when they came. The people, especially the blind man saw a different Jesus, a Jesus based on experience, on touch, on relationship.

The blind man knew his hopelessness and saw relief. The Pharisees never grasped the notion that they were sinners. The blind man saw freedom in his release from the bondage of his blindness. The Pharisees saw the healing as a direct confrontation to their power. The blind man saw hope; the Pharisees saw a menace.

The question each of us must ask ourselves is which Jesus do we see? Do we see a Jesus limited by rules and regulations; a Jesus steeped in liturgy and tradition? Or do we see a Jesus who longs to touch us, to heal us, to soothe the pain within our hearts?

Some have shaken their fists figuratively at Jesus because he didn’t meet their needs. They were looking for someone who would cater to their physical desires rather than the needs of the heart. They’ve tried filling the hole with other gods. The gods of relationship, passion, power or any other god of their own choosing. Others have chosen to fill the hole in their relationship by legislation. The more rules we have, the more restrictions we place on ourselves, the more religious we become, and the better we’ll be.

But only Jesus can fill that hole and he fills it with relationship, not rules. Those who follow after him, whose hearts are pure find in him a refuge. Those who refuse to come into relationship with him see him as a menace to their emptiness; a barrier to true freedom.

PRAYER: Father God, it’s so easy to put other gods in your place. Gods that will give me a false sense of holiness, a false feeling of stability. Purify my heart so that you are all that I see. Amen.

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