LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus criticizes the religion scholars of his day for loving to dress up in their religious clothes, get greeted politely in public, get reserved seats at synagogues, and for praying long prayers out in public (Matthew 23:5-7; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:45-47). If Jesus gave warnings about religion leaders today, what do you think he would say? And for heaven sake, don’t mention anyone’s name unless folks have already read them in the news.
Jesus might give today’s religion leaders exactly the same warnings he did 2,000 years ago. Why not? Some rich leaders dress up in expensive clothing. Some of them get celebrity status and love it. Some take their show on the road, broadcasting their ministry on television or radio—and their main thrust is fundraising, sometimes to the point of exploiting the poor and elderly. Also, as a possible add-on, Jesus might suggest that ministers preach shorter sermons, tell more stories, and feed people when they get hungry. But mostly, shorter sermons.
Seriously, just to provoke some brain activity, what critique do you think Jesus would offer to religion leaders today if they invited him to speak at a church leadership convention?
A few ideas, to prime the pump:
- Don’t spend so much time telling 2,000-year-old Bible stories. Jesus didn’t tell many Bible stories. Instead, encourage the people, help them deal with their troubles, and remind them that they are citizens of God’s kingdom and ambassadors who represent that kingdom to the citizens of this world.
- Stop using tithing as a fundraising tool since tithing was an Old Testament Jewish law that is now obsolete, like the Jewish laws about circumcision and kosher meals. (There’s a debate among Christians about tithing, which is the church’s most effective technique for raising money.)
- There’s a bit of a pushy and intimidating control freak in some religion leaders and a lot of control freak in a few. Back off. You’re supposed to be on your knees and washing feet. Like the rest of us.