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If Only Christians Were Actually Christlike

August 5, 2015

Did you know there are zombies in the Bible?  zombiesOkay, not really zombies, but people who came out of their graves and walked through Jerusalem. Matthew 27:52-53 says that when Jesus died on the cross, the moment he gave up his spirit, “The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’s resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” There are two things about this passage. One, they came out of the tombs when he died and hung around the cemetery for three days before going into the city. Imagine taking flowers to a loved one’s grave on Saturday morning and running into a bunch of dead people sitting around waiting for Jesus to come out of his tomb. Second, when did you ever hear this passage mentioned in a sermon? This is a hard one to explain since an event like this would surely have been the lead story on the Fox News version of Jerusalem’s media. To my knowledge there is no historical record of dead people walking around the city, not even in the writings of Josephus. This passage raises more questions than it answers.

Another passage not often preached about is Matthew Chapter 23, known as the Seven Woes (actually in Matthew there are only six in the original manuscript). This is the place Jesus rails against the Pharisees, the religious right, the fundamentalist of the time. He not only rails against them he curses at them. Matthew 23:33 – “You snakes! You brood of vipers!…” Those are not nice words. It is interesting that the only times Christ seemed to get angry, was when he was addressing the Pharisees. When he was dealing with “sinners”, he shows love, compassion, and forgiveness. Sadly, the woes he leveled at the Pharisees, are valid today for some modern day Christians.

All but one of the “woes” begins with, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” One begins with, “You blind guides!” Just replace Pharisees or guides with fundamentalist/religious right and you have modernized these verses.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces.” 44fd7c0025This is the first woe. Does this happen today? Ask a gay person, a divorced person, an unwed mother, an addict, a homeless person, a woman considering an abortion,or a transexual, just how many churches open their doors for them.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one,you make him twice as much the son of hell as you are.” This is the second woe.  Wow, Jesus isn’t happy here! Does this happen today? Ask a Christian who drinks wine, smokes pot, plays cards, doesn’t always go to church, doesn’t read the Bible much, is divorced, or who doesn’t tithe (gives ten percent of their income to the church), if they have ever been accused of not being Christian, or at the least, a “lesser” Christian. That last phrase has always cracked me up, you either are or you aren’t, like being pregnant.

Woe to you blind guides! You say, “If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing: but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.” This is the third woe.  There is more to it but it comes down to the same thing. Basically, Jesus is saying if you give your word, stick to it, don’t try to weasel out of it. One could say if your going to use the Bible as the word of God, don’t pick and choose which parts you apply and which parts you ignore.  pick-and-chooseDoes this happen today? I have always found it interesting how the Bible can be used as a rule book, as opposed to the love letter it was intended to be. How many people want nothing to do with Christianity because of the inconsistency of Christians?

The last three, and the one not in Matthew, all relate to making a show of one’s religion while not dealing with the more important matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness. The Pharisees were so caught up in how they looked to the world and the rules, they had forgotten what God is about.  Does this happen today?  When was the last time your church opened its doors so the homeless had a roof over their heads? Or when was the last time your fellowship hall was used to feed the homeless? And I don’t just mean turkey at Thanksgiving. Has your church ever allowed any of those rooms that sit empty all week to be used for an AA, or other addict recovery meeting?  If God is love, where is the love being shown to a world that struggles just to get by everyday?

The showing off of one’s religion has moved even to Facebook. How many times have you seen someone post their location on Sunday while at church? “Look at me, I am worshipping God!” Jesus would post back, “Woe to you blind guides!” And he would not be talking about your GPS.

The Pharisees set themselves up as the example of what it meant to be godly. The religious right has assumed that role today. If Christ was loving, forgiving, compassionate, and non-judgemental, where are his followers that emulate those traits?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2015 6:01 pm

    One of the heroes of the faith who is much admired by many on ‘the religious right’ still sets us a wonderful example though few actually know about his faithfulness in this area.

    • August 5, 2015 6:47 pm

      Charles Spurgeon was a great preacher and Christian, not sure he would affiliate with today’s “right”

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