by Sandy Kirby Quandt
In October Pilot and I took a ten state 2,777 mile road trip. Although the original purpose for the trip did not unfold as planned, a good time was had by all nonetheless.
One of the marvels on this trip was seeing God’s splendor revealed in the changing autumn leaves. I took so many pictures! Some pictures were taken as we rolled down the road. Some were taken as I stood beneath the trees.
Something I noticed with the pictures I took as we drove was although the leaves looked vibrant and beautiful from a distance, upon closer inspection they were mostly dead.
As I thought about the leaves, I also thought about those of us who call ourselves Christ followers.
Do we appear to have a vibrant, on-fire relationship with God to the casual observer but under God’s magnifying glass are mostly dead?
One sign I saw in front of a church in the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky read, “You can fool the pastor, but not the Master.”
Are we trying to fool the Master?
The Pharisees fooled many with their insistence on following man-made rules, rituals, and laws. They appeared pious to anyone who observed their actions.
Like the leaves, they looked good on the outside until you looked closer at their cold hard hearts.
Guess you could say they fooled the pastor and the masses.
They thought themselves clever enough to fool Jesus. They quickly found out, however, they couldn’t fool the Master. Jesus called them “white-washed tombs”. They looked good on the outside, but were filled with dead bones.
Their legalism and separatism made the religion they advocated more a matter of outward behavior than an inward heart-change which showed they loved God and loved others with the love of God.
The Pharisees were haughty and judgmental against anyone who didn’t think like they did. This attitude of theirs butted against Christ’s teachings on love and grace for all people.
Looking at these religious leaders from the outside, their rhetoric and strict observances may have appeared God-honoring. Their hearts, however, told an altogether different story.
When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, he often pointed out how far off the mark they were from what a follower of God should do and be. He pointed out God desires us to love him with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Jesus also reminded the Pharisees God’s word tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan further emphasized the importance of understanding our neighbors aren’t just the people who look or think like us, agree with us, or follow our agenda.
God’s not looking for those who put on a good outward pious show. He isn’t looking for people who put man-made rituals, loyalties, and traditions above the love he’s called us to have for others.
God is looking for those who love him with all their heart, soul, and mind, and love their neighbors – all of them – as themselves.
So how are we doing with that?
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“You hypocrites! How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you!
‘These people, says God, honor me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me. It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach human rules as though they were my laws!’” Matthew 15:7-9 (GNT)
I wish you well.
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