Jesus also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.”
(Mark 12:38-40 NLT)
Jesus didn’t go out of His way to make religious people feel good about their self-righteous piety, instead He made sure they knew just how wrong they were about themselves. These same people who considered themselves godly, didn’t even know who God was – let alone when He was standing in front of them! Jesus also didn’t sugar coat His messages, He didn’t water down sin, yet He never turned away anyone who truly sought Him out.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
(John 8:4-11 NLT)
Unfortunately, the world doesn’t see the body of believers as the saying, “Church isn’t just a building full of saints, but a hospital for the sinners” – instead, modern day Christianity is portrayed as a den of hypocrites who look down on the rest of the world; basically the equivalent to the same Pharisees that Jesus referred to as a brood of vipers. I know that I’ve felt as I’ve been looked down upon by other ‘Christians’ and by non-believers. I’d also like to tell you that I’ve never looked down on anyone else, but honestly as much as it pains me to admit it – I have and I’m afraid it’s not something I’m free from…yet. I don’t always realize I’ve done it, until at the end of day, when my mind is going over what I’ve said or done – and it hits me, how did I become such a hypocrite? It’s never my intention, I’ll make a comment about a situation and it’s like this condescending tone just rolls off my tongue and I’m judging someone on their actions (or lack of).
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
(James 4:4-10 NLT)
The many benefits of this age is that we have access to so much information and it’s readily available at our fingertips! Just today when I did my first ‘long run’ on the treadmill at our local Rec Center; I listened to an audio book from one of my favorite online pastors, with my smart phone & bluetooth wireless speakers, in the nice Air Conditioned building – can you count all the wonderful technological marvels that have ‘enriched’ our lives! Yet this instant access can be just as much a downfall – as I’ve wasted countless hours bingeing on my favorite sitcoms and series on Netflix while scrolling through Facebook. Convenience is a wonderful thing, but just like eating from a Drive Thru window every meal isn’t considered a healthy choice – just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.
All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].
(1 Corinthians 10:23 AMP)
I’m currently focusing on, admitting to myself (as well as repenting to God), areas where I’m struggling and what changes I need to make in my life. I’m not even sure when or where it happened, but it seems I got complacent in my walk with God. Just like it’s easy to do with any relationship, we can take God and our spirituality for granted. I’ve also realized that I need to start evaluating what I allow in my life and that even seemingly harmless, everyday routines – can be dangerous.
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
(Matthew 16:23 NLT)