GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
Loving Systems More Than People
By Keith L. Estes
"And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity." And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, "Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen year's be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?" And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him." [Luke 13: 11-17]
Barclay says, "The president of the Synagogue, and those like him were people Who Loved Systems More Than They Loved People...Sidney and Beatrice Webb, afterwards Lord and Lady Passmore, were two great economists and statistical experts; but H. G. Wells said of Beatrice Webb that the trouble about her was that `she saw men as specimens walking.'
In Christianity the individual always comes before the system. It is true to say that without Christianity there can be no such thing as democracy, because Christianity alone guarantees and defends the value of the ordinary and the individual man. If ever Christian principles were banished from political and economic life there would be nothing left to keep at bay the totalitarian state where the individual is lost in the system, and only exists, not for his own sake, but for the sake of the system...It is all too tragically true that more trouble and strife arises in Churches over legalistic details of procedure than for any other reason. In the world, and in the Church, we are constantly in peril of loving systems more than we love God and more than we love men.
Jesus' whole action in this matter makes it clear that it is not God's will that any human being should suffer one moment longer than is absolutely necessary. The Jewish law was that it was perfectly legal to help someone on the Sabbath who was in actual danger of his life. If Jesus had postponed the healing of this woman until the morrow no one could have criticized Him; but Jesus insisted that suffering must not be allowed to continue until tomorrow if it could be helped today. Over and over again in life, some good and kindly scheme is held up until this or that regulation is satisfied, or this or that technical detail worked out. He gives twice who gives quickly, as the Latin proverb has it. No helpful deed that we can do today should be postponed until tomorrow."
( References: Luke 13:11-17, The Holy Bible, The Daily Study Bible- By William Barkley, The Westminster Press- Philadelphia, Pa.)