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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.


For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17

The Kingdom of Heaven is described for us in many ways. Sometimes we are told what the future Kingdom will be like once we’ve died and got to live with Jesus. Other times ‘Kingdom Talk’ is about how God’s Kingdom is among us now. If we allow God to control our thoughts and our actions, then a part of His Kingdom exists among us here on earth.

When Jesus was on earth His ‘Kingdom Talk’ revolved around the idea of servanthood, of the least being the greatest, of widows being clothed and orphans fed. His Kingdom was one of giving, acceptance and physical as well as emotional healing.

Paul continues that theme in Romans. He tells us that the kingdom of God here on earth is marked by righteousness, peace and joy. When we live lives marked by right living, peaceful attitudes and joy built on knowing who we are and being content with that, then God’s Spirit is evident in our lives.

One of the things that will steal our joy is when we allow people to make a list of rules about how we should live and how we should act. We allow them to decide for us what we should like or dislike, how we should worship, what music we should listen to or social activities we should engage in. They have a list of clothes we should wear and how we should wear them.

Paul tells us that kingdom living has nothing like that. Some people like meat, others like vegetables. Some like slow, quiet music, for others the louder the better. For some long hair is where it’s at. For others, the ears must be seen to be proper. Too many times we get too bent out of shape over what a person wears or what he eats. I’m not a fan of tattoos, but some of the nicest people I’ve met have lots of tattoos! That doesn’t make them any less of a creation of God than I am.

God’s grace gives us freedom to eat what we want, listen to music we enjoy, and do the things we enjoy doing. Our only rule is to allow the Spirit of God to guide us in those likes/dislikes and activities. We learn that as we grow in relationship to him.

Don’t let the ‘joy snatchers’ steal the joy you can have by living free in Jesus.

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many people around me telling me I can’t do this or I have to do that to be spiritual and to live for you. Sometimes their messages are confusing and critical. Help me to rely on you for the wisdom and guidance to live ‘kingdom life’ the way you intended me to live it. I claim the freedom I have in Jesus to guide me as I grow along life’s journey. Amen.

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