Jesus was vehemently criticized for His steadfast commitment to place grace over the letter of the law. Let me explain this further. Jesus was always more concerned with helping people and addressing their needs than upholding religious tradition. The Pharisees, which were Jesus harshest critics, were so focused on keeping their traditions that they lost sight of the suffering that was all around them. Jesus told them their attitudes were hypocritical because they were ignoring the weightier matters of the law such as grace, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23). Most Christians will say they we are not like this at all. But is this truly the case?
What would happen in most churches if the people came in one Sunday morning and the pulpit furniture had been rearranged? For countless congregations, such an action would result in a church split. The outcry would be intense. How dare someone move the pulpit furniture! I once said in a sermon that many pastors could split their congregations with this one simple, seemingly insignificant action; remove the pulpit. I then joked that when the ancient Israelites marched into battle they carried the Ark of the Covenant, not a church pulpit. And this is only one example. Should we tamper with anything that touches on tradition, such as the order of worship, where we place the announcements or offering, whether or not the pastor wears a suit and tie, and numerous other minor details, the resulting outrage would leave the congregation broken and fractured. Perhaps we are more like the Pharisees than we think we are.
On the other hand, if you are reading this and you realize that such small details are not worth fighting over and there are greater and more important issues to concern ourselves with, such as worshipping God in Spirit and truth, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, helping the needy, and shining Jesus’ light to a dark and hurting world, rejoice; you are, as Jesus said, not far from the kingdom of God (Mark 12:34).
How do we overcome Pharisaical attitudes in the church today? I welcome your thoughts on the subject. As always, I also welcome the opportunity to pray for you about whatever you are facing. Please feel free to comment. (Don’t forget, since my comments section is a new feature, all comments are moderated and will appear soon after you post them.)
God bless you today.