Tuesday, November 11, 2014

we neglect the weightier matters

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others."
Matthew 23:23

WARNING: I use the word "damn", in its truest sense, a lot in this post. Read on if you want.

The religious leadership of Jesus' day had lost sight of what really mattered. They had so focused on external ritual and outward appearance that they missed God and His work upon the heart. They had much knowledge of the Law. They had little passion for life change. They conformed outwardly with great public display. But inwardly they failed to be changed by God. And they were misleading Israelites to do the same thing.

Jesus stood up to their self-righteous showiness. He called it out every chance that He got. By pronouncing "woes", he damned their actions. He made the people well aware of the shams of self-righteousness. He warned them to beware and begged the leaders to repent from their damned attitudes. He loved the self-righteous enough to confront them with the truth. And He showed them a path to repentance even as He chastised their false piety.

It was for good reason that Jesus did this. Religion tends to get twisted by human pride. I am afraid that I have been guilty of nearly every one of Jesus' observations in these "woes" at one time or another. That damns my lack of obedience as well. Even today, Christianity can produce impressive Pharisees. I have been one occassionally. And I am so afraid that American Evangelicalism in particular has been doing just that: fostering an outward image while neglecting the weightier matters of justice and mercy and faithfulness. Jesus condemns this!

We make a bigger deal about elections changing culture than the Prince of Peace bringing an increase of His government to hearts around us. We create weird subcultures like Christian education, Christian music, Christian films, Christian fiction while not really engaging the hearts of artists, thinkers, and educators with the gospel by incarnating Christ in their world. We ape the world and don't imitate Christ. We snipe at our culture while withdrawing in a strange Christian bubble, neglecting the weight of the gospel's call to "GO" by staying safe in our holy enclave. Woe to us. We are damned Pharisees.

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