"Then Jesus asked them, 'Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?' But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn [hardened] hearts, said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus."1
Can you imagine it? Jesus was in church (synagogue) and He noticed a man who had a withered hand—and the religious leaders watched Jesus closely to see if He would heal this man on what they considered to be "the Lord's Day"—a day in which people were not to do any unnecessary work. Jesus was angry at them because of their hardness of heart. But He healed the man anyhow, and lo and behold the religious Pharisees planned how they could kill Him; Jesus, that is!
And why was Jesus so angry at these religious bigots? It was because of their non-feeling, stubborn, theologically rigid, cold, hard hearts. Consequently, they loved their man-made rules much more than they loved people—or God.
For some strange reason, people who are theologically rigid have deceived themselves into believing that their rigidity is a form of spirituality, when in fact, it is a symptom of emotional rigidity, which in turn, is a form of denial (self-deception). This in turn leaves them with a hard, non-feeling, cold heart! They are out of touch with their own reality (their true inner feelings and motives), and being out of touch with their own feelings, are insensitive to everybody else's. They also tend to be authoritarian and dogmatic.
Sadly, those who are rigid in their personality don't know or admit that they are rigid. What they also fail to realize is that people who are rigid, dogmatic and authoritarian, are riddled with self-doubts, are insecure, and fearful—and, living in denial, they seek to hide their insecurities behind a phony mask of super-spiritual superiority.
While Jesus was the supreme example of genuine authority and always spoke with authority, He was never authoritarian. And while He was also the supreme example of Truth, He was never dogmatic about it.
Furthermore, God is not into rules, religion, or rigidity! He is into growth, recovery, wholeness and loving relationships—not only for us to have with Him, but also with others and our own selves.
So be very much aware of any religion that is based on rules, religiosity, and rigidity—it is not of God no matter how appealing or plausible it may appear to be. For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [not rigidity].2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please deliver me from self-deception, denial and theological rigidity. Help me always to be honest with You and myself so that I will always be real, genuine and authentic in all that I say and do. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus’s name, amen.”
1. Mark 3:4-6 (NIV).
2. See 2 Corinthians 3:17.