Do you want to be right, or do you want to have a relationship? This is one of the primary questions evoked by our Bible readings for this weekend. It is also a question we face regularly in our daily lives and in our society. For the Christians in Corinth, as described in our first reading (1 Corinthians 8:1-13), this question surfaced around the decision of whether or not it was permissible eat meat sacrificed to idols. Paul seems to suggest that it does not really matter from where the meat comes. What matters is how the people you care about feel about that meat. Will it challenge their faith? Will it become a stumbling block to the weak? Do you want to be right, or do you want to have a relationship?
This theme continues in the reading from Mark's gospel (Mark 1:21-28). The laws prohibiting work on the sabbath carry deep meaning for many people of faith, and yet on this sabbath Jesus rebukes an unclean spirit and frees a man. Jesus chooses to care for the man and to free him, rather than worry over the details of the law.
To this day people continue to place barriers and restrictions on the faith. What are some of the ways people might be kept from a relationship with Jesus by the barriers we create? It is useful, in our structure as a church and in our personal relationships, to consider whether the rules we have or the way we do things are helpful, or whether they create unnecessary barriers. Jesus came to remove any barriers that might separate us from God's love. We are invited to follow in Jesus example, reaching out to all people with God's love.