Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything other than God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
Luke 11:37-52 (NRSV)
While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”
One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs.
Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
Are we guilty of being like the Pharisee in this passage? The Pharisee was focused on outward appearances and rituals. How many things in our lives as Christians are just for show? Do we worry more about external things like who has say in the church because their ancestors have been attending that church for 100 years or more? Are more concerned where we are in the pecking order of our congregation than whether we are living as beacons of light full of love?
Jesus reprimands the Pharisee for tithing “mints and herbs of all kinds” while neglecting justice and God. The Pharisees are bound up in following endless rules while neglecting what is most important. Do we get in arguments about how often to serve Communion as opposed to celebrating the mysteries of Christ to be found in Communion?
Do we argue about whether the church needs to be power washed, painted, or have new siding while there are people in our community that need help? Are there opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ which we leave neglected while we worry about lesser things?
We are guilty of concentrating on the wrong things while letting the bigger picture of our surrender to Christ go. It is important to do upkeep on our churches and being wise stewards. It is also important to remember why we are doing these things in the first place. We have surrendered our lives to Christ.
God, too often I find myself being like a Pharisee. Please help me see the bigger picture in serving Jesus Christ. Help me to determine the true priorities. Help me to be humble and wise. Amen.
Go with God!