Friday, May 28, 2010

Woe to the church?

Read Matthew 23.

In Matthew 23 Jesus blasts 7 "woes" to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Jesus' lament wasn't that the Pharisees were not religious in their action. It was that their religion was doing little to help them or other to do God's will.

The seven woes are:
  1. They created a false religion that actually kept people away from the Kingdom of God.
  2. They created disciples who were committed to dead religious practices.
  3. They devalued the things of God (i.e., the Temple and alter of God) to increase the value of their own work (i.e., offerings and gold).
  4. They ignored the purpose of the Law (i.e., justice, mercy and faithfulness).
  5. They used ceremonial cleanliness to hide the sins of their hearts.
  6. They maintained a religious appearance that masked their spiritual deadness.
  7. They lifted up the memories of spiritual giants but displayed attitudes of those who martyred the prophets and righteous.

It is easy to be religious, but what might we in the church today be doing that detracts from doing what God values the most?

I'm going to guess that many will start listing things like we aren't strong enough of sin or we don't preach hell enough. We might even be encouraged to say that we aren't strong enough on encouraging people to attend our church services or prayer groups. But look again at Jesus' woes. It seems that these are the kinds of things that the Pharisees and Scribes were focused on. Jesus wanted to change the focus all together.

Beware! There are many Pharisees in the American church even today. Many of them might be heroes and symbols of the most religious folks. One of them might be me. It is possible the my religious emphases are a stumbling block for some on the way to the Kingdom of God. It might be that you are one in some aspects of your faith.