Thursday, February 22, 2007

Woe! Woe! Woe! Does Your Pastor Practice What he Preaches?

Matthew 23-24 - ah yes, Jesus meek and mild, so soft and sensitive, never gets angry or frustrated.

Jesus is brilliantly perceptive, more so than most people (sometimes it is worth stating the obvious).

I think that Jesus is also deeply emotional, more so than most people (sometimes this is not always stated as obvious).

What would God say if He were a brilliantly perceptive, deeply emotional man or woman?

Thus we have the Gospels...four of them - so we wouldn't gloss over his insights and rants (amongst other reasons).

Jesus is so careful in what he says..."The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat (thus they have authority). So you must be careful to do everything they tell you (Jesus is covering his "seat"). BUT (and this is a big but) do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach."

Wow! Who is going to argue with that? Even the Teachers and Pharisees can't argue back...Jesus has made a potent, emotionally charged observation of reality to which everyone can testify, and to which everyone has strong feelings about.

Even before Jesus gets to the Seven Woes (seven being a number of woe is bad, two really not good, three - now it is getting serious, but are completely woeful...) He rattles off three other damning observations - it's like he's just getting warmed up.

One very important aspect of this ten-fold rant by Jesus towards the religious leaders and Scripture experts of the day is this: what was Jesus' attitude about all of this? What was Jesus' history with these influential people? What right did Jesus have, how had he lived so that he could say this and not be self-incriminated?
Was he just criticizing to make himself look good? Did he exaggerate their flaws so that his would look minor? Did he have something to prove? Did Jesus have some unresolved feelings towards his father Joseph that caused him to chafe at the authority of other men?
Did Jesus ever offer any solutions to these people that he was cutting down to size?

Reading through Matthew's gospel, you would find, point by point, a complete contrast between Jesus and these influential religious leaders. Jesus did not burden people, rather he took their burdens upon himself, Jesus did not seek honor with others, but rather ate with the dishonorable. Jesus did not ask to be called Rabbi, Father or Teacher, even if some used that title on him. Jesus had demonstrated many times his life as a servant, he had intentionally and repeatedly chosen to not exalt himself - his whole Incarnation was an act of humiliation, as would be his Crucifixion (see Philippians 2).

There are particular pastors that I have problems about, who I think should be close to first in line to receive their woes. There are churches, Christians, religious organizations that I think are blatantly hypocritical. Oh how they annoy me. Especially when they negatively influence me, my friends and family, my church members and attenders and neighbors.

But everyday I have to look in the mirror. Am I willing to see a Woe-Hypocrite branded on my chest?

And when I react to other hypcrites, what's the goal of my reaction? Restoration? Redemption? Truth in Love? Reconciliation?

What's the end result you work towards when you react to hypocrites?

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