Are We Right At the Centre of Truth?
Oct 21, 2015 1138
…Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord (Matthew 23:39).
The Pharisees agreed with Jesus on most doctrinal issues – monotheism, revelation, angels, law, judgment, etc. Both were even agreed on such minute matters as tithing the smallest increase (see Mt 23:23). But where they differed was at the center, concerning the absolute – the nature of God. The Pharisees saw God like themselves, austere, legalistic, whereas Jesus saw his Father as like himself – loving, gracious, accessible to sinners, and accepting all the penitent. This difference made all the difference. This difference determined the nature of the behavior of the Pharisees and the behavior of Jesus. So agreement on secondary (relative) doctrinal issues may leave conduct and character untouched. Are we right at the center? That’s the point.
Recall our Lord’s searing woes on the religious leaders of his day. He did not damn their theological beliefs but he condemned their behavior. And he did it primarily on the basis that they attended absolutely to relative things and relatively to absolute things. They paid tithe, he said, on garden herbs – mint, anise, and cummin, but omitted the weightier matters of the law – righteousness, mercy, and faith. They strained out gnats and swallowed camels. They were zealous missionaries crossing land and sea to make converts but did not lead those converts into faith, hope, and love (see Mt 23).
So it is clear that Jesus saw the essence of all false religion as a distorted sense of priorities. Such religion made a world of an atom and an atom of a world. It made the little big and the big little. It broke the first and great commandment by not putting God first, his nature, his will.
Man’s great enemies are sin and death. Any religion which does not make primary God’s solution to these – the cross of Christ and the Christ of the cross – is in danger of being a cult, a reincarnation of Pharisaism. Let us never forget that Christ was crucified by the most bigoted religionists of all history – not by atheists.
– Des Ford