****WARNING I MAY STEP ON TOES, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK”
As always there are dozens of points I could make in this reading, but I will share with you what particularly caught my eye. I wondered why it caught my eye and so I searched my heart and I’ll be honest the pericope I am going to share with you caught my eye because I am a pastor and as a pastor (and any pastor could affirm this) I (we) regularly have people inform us of their great angst about issues that are not doctrine of God. Whether it be the removal of furniture, standing on a different part of the platform, walking around when one preaches, moving a service time, non-men, i.e. young people and women picking-up offering, etc.. Angst to the point of being mean, not just in the church I am in, in every church I’ve been a part of. Why? Because we are all humans and we are all sinful and some sin is manifested in anger over issues that are not of significance to God. If we don’t believe having moral angst over such things is sin then we should read the text that caught my attention in my devotional time today.
There is a “conflict” between Jesus and the church people (leaders) over something that they deem important. This something is found in verse 2,
“Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
Now let us understand something, this was not a question of hygiene, this was a question of worship. To understand in what way, find a good commentary and it will explain how this was an aspect of worship. So they are vexed thinking that Jesus is ignoring something that is not scripture, but is “tradition.” At least they acknowledge it is not holy writ. But that is the problem they are upset as if it is holy writ. Then Jesus points out to them in verses 3-6 that they get upset about things that are not in Holy Writ, but they are not bothered with God’s commands which are broken, even by them.
Jesus then references a very powerful statement,
‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” (15:9)
Jesus here defines false worship as teaching others “a preference of man” as if it were as important as scripture.
Isn’t this what we are doing when we become upset to the point of treating someone unkindly or shunning someone or making someone feel excluded based on a “preference of man?”
We then see what will take place in the hearts of people participating in this type of false worship, who hold their preferences and their traditions to such a high level.
They will become OFFENDED…
Have you ever met an offended Christian over something that is not clearly a “thus saith the Lord?”
Have you ever been an offended Christian over something that is not clearly a “thus saith the Lord?” I have!
When this is taking place…when we take OFFENSE over personal preference to this degree we are participating in false worship. We are worshiping our preferences, which means we are not truly worshiping God!
Jesus tells us how to deal with such folk.
“Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
Pastors go back and read that again…Hold on I have to go back and read it again…
To my brothers and sisters serving the Lord in ministry whether as a volunteer or as a paid position.
What go counsel this is…
“Let them alone!”
The disciples are like so many pastors and or members, they are basically asking Jesus, “Jesus you’ve upset them, you’ve offended them, how should we appease them and make them feel better?”
A lot of pastors try to fix things that cannot be fixed.
(And members please know I understand there are bad pastors that offend without thought or unnecessarily)
Also a lot of pastors fail to do the right thing for fear of offending someone.
We need to heed the counsel of Jesus,
“Let them alone! Only other blind people that also like to participate in false worship will follow them, and eventually they’ll follow them right off the edge!”
Here is a great quote that I think applies to this situation:
“We should choose the right because it is right, and leave consequences with God. To men of principle, faith, and daring, the world is indebted for its great reforms. By such men the work of reform for this time must be carried forward.” –Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, p. 460
And to all of us I say, it is okay to not like when our preferences aren’t met, but let us not dislike this so much that we become “offended” and thus participate in the false worship of the spiritually “blind”.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Romans 13 & 14