If you’ve been reading this blog lately (maybe even for a while now) I have made it quite clear that I have issues with religion. More specifically, I have issues with religions that are based in Christianity. It has been on my mind a lot lately, and it has been getting to the point where it bothers me that I am bothered by it. Mostly because I know I am a hypocrite for judging other people for judging people (if that makes sense).
I’m going to defer to someone who has every right to judge people for judging people; someone who has every right to point fingers at people who demand that you do what they say and not what they do, someone who isn’t afraid and is completely justified, in throwing religious leaders under the bus for ignoring the truly important things in life. Jesus.
Below is just an excerpt from Matthew 23, and I would urge you to take a few minutes to read the whole thing and think about what he is saying. He is speaking to the Jewish leaders. He is both teaching the people about what really matters and calling out the the Sadducees and Pharisees. I can imagine they were not to thrilled by this speech.
Sadly, it is a speech probably looked over by many churches today. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good churches doing good things out there too, but it doesn’t take but a few scandals to stain the whole cloth.
I’m not going to try to interpret or explain all that Jesus says here. Instead, read his words and think about what they mean to you.
Matthew 23: 1-13, 15 (NLT)
Jesus Criticizes the Religious Leaders
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. 6 And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. 7 They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’
8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. 9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. 10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
13 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.
15 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!