Jesus, Religion & You: The Religious Right
Jesus had a lot to say to those people whose way of doing church overrode the true purpose of a relationship with God and others. The people Jesus spoke about were the Pharisees; although they were the Jewish leaders of the time, we all know them because they exist in our churches!
“Not in mine!” you might say, but if you do, watch out it could be you. Let us look at some of the things Jesus said to these people.
The Pharisees, just like some other people in church, focused on holiness over and against loving other people. Their righteousness was something they were so proud of that they invented rules to protect themselves from getting dirty. They avoided certain things and certain people in an effort to stay clean. When they thought they might encounter something unclean, they ceremonially washed themselves to get rid of what kids used to call “cooties.” Do you remember that?
Now picture a few people in your church, I hear you laughing! These people will go to any length to prove to themselves and others that they are holy. The problem is that there ARE no righteous people (Romans 3:23, Isaiah 53:6). If it were possible to be perfectly righteous, then Christ went to the cross for nothing (Gal. 2:21). The Pharisees, as well as some people in church, are convinced that they can be! So much so, that they look down their noses at other people who do not uphold their self-made standards. Jesus had no stronger words than for these people. Why did He do this? Jesus was able to see their hearts. In fact, Jesus said in Luke 6:43-46, that it was their evil hearts that caused them to sin. What came out of their mouths, and what displayed in their actions, was a direct result of what was in their hearts already. They saw themselves a superior to other people. They took every opportunity to express that by condemning the actions of others, even God Himself.
They based their view of who was righteous and who was a sinner on their own self-righteousness, not based on God’s righteousness. Their judgment of others came from their own self-appointed position. Worse than that, they were teaching others to do the same. Of course, Jesus saw right through them. He practiced love not condemnation, and Jesus knew who the real sinners were.
In many instances, Jesus exposed their hearts. He showed how their desire to judge others, based on little or no information, revealed a heart that was more eager to do evil than to love God or others. Do you know people like that? I certainly do. They wag their fingers, shake their heads, and are very quick to judge the motives of others that do not even know, in an effort to feel better or be holier. Worse yet, they conspire together for the same purposes under the guise of “protecting the interests of the church”. What foolishness, what a lie.
Jesus commanded that we love God and others. By condemning and judging others and by loving self, we are violating all of the Ten Commandments. Instead of condemnation, love builds up. In 1Corinthians 13:4-7, the definition of love is described. This definition leaves no room for legalism or condemnation. In addition, Jesus said, “they will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.” Look at these definitions of love. Look at the legalists. Tell me, are the religious RIGHT?
See ya next time….