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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
- When they/we disguise the infectious corruption that lies beneath the surface of their lives. Corruption pollutes.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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).