Sunday, February 24, 2008

Re-inventing a Shattered Wheel

16 "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ' Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.' 17 "You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18 "And, 'Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.' 19 "You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering?” (Matthew 23:16-19)
For seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and consecrate it; then the altar shall be most holy, and whatever touches the altar shall be holy. (Exodus 29:37)

How foolish was it for the Pharisees and the other teachers of the law to have made a distinction between swearing by the offering on the altar and swearing by the altar itself. And even if they had made swearing by the altar or the temple as the one incurring a binding obligation, they still would have missed the point because they didn’t go back to where the holiness and sanctity for anything originates.

So many people see the foolish and wicked behavior of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day or the Israelites in the desert and their constant rebellion and lack of faith. Likewise, many people see or the shortcomings of Peter or Thomas in their actions and words before the Lord, but miss the fact that it wasn’t just Peter or Thomas who made bold or seemingly foolish statements, but when Peter declared his allegiance to Christ in the garden even though it would take him to death, “All the disciples said the same thing too.” (Matthew 26:35)

It is with a similar mentality that so many see the blatantly foolish, wicked, proud, braggadocios, or sinful behavior in others, but do not apply the same lens to examine their own faith. Just like the Israelites who so quickly detested manna, we are so quick to complain about the taste, presentation, or timeliness of the food that we are provided on a daily basis. But even worse than that, it is the rampant popular idolatry that places anything and everything in entertainment, technology, and even pious activity on a platform that receives preferential time and treatment over the Lord who provides grace for our entertainment, who sustains our world and its technologies, and who should be the prime focus of any pious activity.

If I read my Bible only so that I might be able to teach or preach a sermon, what value does it have? Which is more important, a crafty sermon that can move the emotions of the hearers, or the Spirit-enabled, Scripture-fueled, Christ-centered, God-glorifying sanctification, and the overflowingly contagious love for God of the preacher? Man made self-centered ideas of how life and religion should be conducted are nothing more than re-inventing a shattered wheel. The result, not the product, is the only thing that doesn’t change.


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