Actions—Not Just Words
It’s common for young adults who reject the faith to make accusations against the religious leaders of their childhood. “They loaded us down with guilt.” “They didn’t practice what they preached.” ”All they cared about was the show.” “They loved the titles and the recognition.” Now I get their accusations, but what I don’t get is why anyone would turn away from Jesus for these reasons. Jesus is the One who made these same accusations in the first century, and it got Him killed. During His last week, He spent an entire teaching session with the crowd and His disciples warning them against this kind of self-serving spiritual authority.
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, ‘The Scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore all the things they say, you are to do and to keep. But do not do their works for they talk, but they do not do.’” - Matthew 23:1-3
Jesus was not a revolutionary that tore down authority. He called for respect for the spiritual leadership of His people, but this did not mean that He did not expose that they were all talk and no action. He hated the heavy burdens of legalistic rules they placed on others, the emphasis upon religious dress, the seats of honor at dinner parties, and the best seats in the synagogue, and the fancy titles. If I’m going to be part of Jesus’ Kingdom, I need to reject all this stuff that feeds my pride.
LORD, whether it’s a luncheon appointment or a promise to get grades to my students, help me to be a preacher who is true to his word. Help me not to hunger for personal recognition. Keep me from being a stumbling block especially to young people. Keep me from being anything like the religious opponents who ended up handing You over to be crucified. Help some of my friends who are using the failure of religious leaders to wander to realize that You are the One who causes them to realize that hypocrisy is evil.
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