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Breaking Bad

Perspective changes everything. Just take for example the modern tendency to hold up the anti-hero as someone to be admired or at least respected, and sometimes, even cared for.

This is especially true in several contemporary television series. From Tony Soprano to Walter White of Breaking Bad fame, it seems our modern media is desperate for us to see the “good side” of being evil. They seem to be telling us that “see, even though these characters break the law, they aren’t all bad.” On the other hand, we also live in a day when there are so many laws and regulations enacted that the average person can’t help but break at least four laws before breakfast every day! If the police are looking to arrest someone, they usually can find some reason to do so. And our local police are increasingly looking like a paramilitary organization. Forgive me for being pretty nervous about “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” in this clash of consequences!

Between the obsessive law-making of our modern world and the media’s obsessive glamorization of law-breaking, one has to wonder if we’ve all somehow missed the point in today’s society.

In our Gospel Lesson today, we get a bit of a hint as to the core reason we’ve come to this place in our modern world. Look at Mark 1:29-35:

At that time, Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.

It seems that the Lord Jesus dealt with the general population of His day with a decidedly different perspective than He dealt with the leaders of His day. The Lord dealt with the “regular” people by extending healing and forgiveness to them, and He dealt with the leaders in a stark and brutally honest way to the point that they hated Him and wanted Him dead! Why?

Well, the leaders always seemed to be exclusively focused on rule-keeping, so if that was the way they were going to deal with the world, then the Lord gave them back the very perspective they had in the first place. In other words, be careful when you demand what you deserve; you may just get it! But the everyday people were suffering, and the Lord didn’t deal with them by piling on more rules and regulations. He healed them, which seems to suggest that the path to true holiness and right living isn’t through the path of mere rule-keeping, but being healed from the “handicaps” of my soul-sickness! That will make me able to live a “healthy” spiritual life in communion with the God Who loves me AND with those around me

Today, it isn’t so much that you are a rule-breaker and you need to start getting better at rule-keeping as much as you need to admit your sickness and finally check into the spiritual hospital and get your soul-sickness diagnosed and a proper path for spiritual treatment prescribed. Then go about becoming healed so you can be strong enough to BEcome who you really are! That change of perspective will finally liberate you from the twin lies of “I’m just no good” AND “See, I’ve obeyed the rules! Aren’t I a good boy?!” No, the truth is we are all soul-sick and the amazing grace of God given to us in the wisdom of the timeless faith invites us to trust the Great Physician in the spiritual hospital of His Church to heal us and finally make us fit for His eternal home. That’s why it’s so important to be Orthodox on Purpose!

P.S. This Sunday’s Faith Encouraged LIVE program answers the question “What Must I do to be Saved?” Have you ever had someone ask you “Are you saved?” Sunday we get the ancient and timeless wisdom of the Original Church to answer that question in a way that actually leads us to salvation and not some perpetual spiritual kindergarten! That’s Sunday at 8 PM on


  • Laurie Boulden
    Posted August 22, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Good evening. My boyfriend posted your blog. I mean no disrespect, and I hope you can clarify some things for me. The Jewish leaders and general population followed the rules of Jewish living and Jesus was stark and brutally honest with everyone. Take the woman at the well. He called her on her life style, did not sugar coat the problem. The sellers he threw out of the temple. He was brutal with them. He told several leaders of the community that they were close to understanding the kingdom of God. It wasn’t about leaders and regular people, and it wasn’t only about rigidly clinging to rules and regulations. I think Jesus saw the heart of the hypocrite and the repentant. Neither could hide themselves from Him, just as the demons could not hide from Him.
    Even those who were healed, where were they when Jesus went to the cross? He was alone. He asked his disciples if they would desert him as well. All those people that were healed, all those forgiven of sins, they still needed Jesus to go to the cross because that is where the ultimate difference was made. The eternal difference.

    • Post Author
      Fr. Barnabas Powell
      Posted August 24, 2015 at 8:19 am

      Laurie, the only thing I would add to your comment is that I wouldn’t stop at the Cross. The fact is we needed Jesus to come into the world with the Birth He had, the Life He lived, the death He died, the Resurrection He won, the Ascension to the Right Hand of the Father, and the Glorious Second Coming.

      It is a common weakness of our modern version of Christianity to so emphasize the Cross, we miss the absolute necessity of all of the work of Christ to reverse the effects of the Fall, destroy death, and join us to His eternal life in His resurrection. On the Cross, Jesus died to destroy death for us. He was not the Victim of the Father’s wrath, but the Champion Who obeyed the Father’s will that creation be set free to be what the Father created the world and us to be in the first place.

      Thank you for your comment.

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