Sunday, August 21, 2011

Matthew 23:1-12 Religion must be life giving

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

In this passage we receive a stern warning about the hypocrisy that often creeps into religion. Here we see a warming that we should not fall prey to the actions of religious leaders who often receive praise from the people and have the best of everything. Jesus in this passage is very critical of the religious leaders of his time, however, he is not saying Religion is a bad thing (which is often how this passage is interpreted). He is challenging the people to live out their Religion to its fullness and not be caught up in objects, customs, or positions of power. All religions ultimately fail and become corrupt, but that is not to say there is no truth in Religion. The reality is that Religion attempts to capture and celebrate God's being, which is of course impossible since God is so much greater than any person or religion. Religion has its place in teaching us truth, what we need to remember is religion is life giving and if it loses this it fails to have any relevance in our world. 

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