The Seven (bad) Habits of Highly Religious People.

That’s an alternative title to a message I preached yesterday in Glenabbey Church. The focus was on a passage in Luke 11 where Jesus was invited to a meal at the home of a Pharisee. When Jesus and the Pharisees are mentioned together in the gospels, it is almost certain that controversy will ensue: Luke 11 is not exception.

The host’s shock at Jesus’ failure to wash before dinner (the host was more concerned about ritual than hygiene) prompted Jesus to launch a very frank denunciation of the lifeless shell that made up the religious life of the Pharisees and their associates, the lawyers (scribes).

The Bible teaches that there is such a thing as true religion – read about it in James; but there is also religiosity: that is what Jesus denounces. From what he said (including the phrase “woe to you” – used six times), we get a picture of the way religious people get it wrong.

  1. When they/we* pay attention to what’s on the outside and ignore what’s on the inside. But it’s a lot easier to look good on the outside!
  2. When they/we are more concerned about minute detail than about what really matters. The fact that you always say grace at dinner – no matter who is present – doesn’t make up for the lousy way you treat your family!
  3. When their/our religion becomes a source of status and popularity. It’s a bad day when no one seems to realise just how wonderful and spiritual you really are!
  4. When they/we disguise the infectious corruption that lies beneath the surface of their lives. Corruption pollutes.
  5. When they/we burden people with unrealistic expectations. Spiritual leaders are meant to invite people to enjoy God – not invite them into a back-breaking, lifeless system of religiosity.
  6. When they/we drown out the voice of God. The best way to honour a prophet is to do what he says, not build his tomb!
  7. When they/we distort God’s message so that no one can benefit. We lose the key and no one can get in.

* Delete as appropriate!

You can listen, or download an audio of the message from the Glenabbey website.

(Title adapted from the late Steven Covey‘s book).

One thought on “The Seven (bad) Habits of Highly Religious People.

  1. Timely. We just had a robust discussion at cell group tonight about communion; to wine or not to wine, is it monthly/quarterly/daily…..? The questions spoke more to our heart on the matter, than probably what Jesus was aiming for at the last supper.

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