Don’t be fooled, not everyone who appears to be something actually is!
Mark 7: 1-8 “The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) 5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” 6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
The Pharisees are still alive today even in my western culture:
Yesterday a friend told me how he had been lambasted by a Christian man because he had not helped in a way that had been expected (wrongfully so). He was actually shouted at: “You are an abomination to God.” After rolling our eyes I was left with 2 thoughts: I didn’t think people used the word ‘abomination’ anymore and secondly, the Pharisees that slandered Jesus and the disciples are still here.
- Just because people gather around Jesus doesn’t make them Jesus followers. They gather around Jesus but they are focused on his followers and not him. They are gathered around him but not for him or with him.
- Just because people can quote the Bible and even pray impressive prayers does not prove they are any more nearer to Jesus than those who don’t have a Bible or pray. Their lips were moving but their hearts were not moving towards Jesus.
- Just because people sing, clap, raise their hands or whatever they do as ‘worship’ does not mean they are connected with God. It can all be a waste of time but they don’t think so, because these displays can be impressive and it is possible to fall in love with worship instead of worshipping the one you love or should love.
- Just because people have rules for living and whose behaviour is apparently ‘cleaner’ than most does not mean they are more acceptable to God than those who have no rules. A human rule will not bring you closer to God. Neither will the rules of God, the law of God, it doesn’t bring you closer it actually reveals how far away from Him you are, it distances you.
- Just because people are doing what has always been done, it has been passed down generationally, it has become cultural norms and laws, does not mean they were right in the first place. Traditions of men are often a variant of the commands of God. Variants are burdensome, the commands are light.