Thanks for bearing with me on the timing of my posts! I’ll try to stay up to date but no promises :)
Monday’s 40 Days of Lent reading was from Matthew 23:1-39. This particular scripture can be really painful for people who have either found themselves acting like the Pharisees in their roles in church leadership or who have been condemned by such people. Or both.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
Unfortunately, the Christian church is really quite skilled in judgment and condemnation of others while putting on a big show of their own “righteous” faith.
We often act like we are better than others because of the choices we have made in our lifestyles. These are “easy targets” – things like alcohol, drugs and sex. We are quick to revere the well-dressed, well-spoken, non-drinking, “pure” Christian who hangs out with the right people, uses the correct “Christianese” words and frequently discusses how often he or she prays, attends Bible studies or other church-related events.
Never mind that this person could be a huge gossiper or greedy or image obsessed or just plain not nice to people who don’t match their “standard.” If they meet the outward standards of “righteousness”, it appears to be enough.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”
The truth is, all of us are still sinners. The only difference between Christians and non-Christian sinners is that we have accepted Jesus’ offer to be redeemed.
The difference has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Jesus.
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Corinthians 4:5-7
So when we walk with our chests puffed out because we are “good Christians”, we are falsely representing what it means to let the light of Jesus to shine through us.
I pray that we would better represent the Church by allowing Jesus to work IN us instead of glorifying our own efforts and condemning others in the process.