SUBSCRIBER NOTE: I have been posting random thoughts on Facebook and Instagram, and then reposting them here when I get some time so, if you happen to follow me on social media, I know you're seeing them twice. If you don't follow me on social media, I would love to see you there since I do tend to post there more often these days. Either way, thanks a bunch.
My son Isaac used to have a pesky little habit. When he cleared his plate after dinner, he tossed his silverware in the trash along with the scraps. For a while, I couldn't serve soup at a dinner party because my service for eight had become service for three. Isaac was throwing out good stuff with bad stuff, like the proverbial baby with the bathwater.
I confess I've been tempted--mighty tempted--to toss some spoons or babies lately. I've had run-ins with religious folks of both the Christian and non-Christian variety (you don't have to be religious to be religious) that were downright traumatic and made me want to...Gee, I don't know, hide and retreat. I know I'm not alone.
The world is brimming with people who have been burned to blisters by organized religion of all kinds and have elected to throw out baby Jesus with the bathwater. Jesus is never the problem, people. We the people are the problem.
I further admit I'm trying to sort it out, returning to God again and again for peace and clarity I'm not sure will ever come. I'm not about to toss Jesus, mind you, just wrestling with some of the other elements of spiritual life in community with other humans. King David, Job, Jacob, and many others bear witness that God honors our sincere wrestling. He listens and cares and sometimes speaks.
In this verse, St. Paul is warning early Christians to beware of religious leaders who were trying to saddle new believers with burdensome rules and regulations in lieu of or addition to the Gospel of Grace, a distortion he says is no Good News at all. Paul, I agree! Paul was sufficiently vexed by this practice that he said the guilty parties should be cursed. Cursed. Hypocrisy made Jesus nuclear hot under the collar, too. Read Matthew 23:1-39.
I mean, what could be more offensive than presuming any righteousness or superiority apart from Christ, provided by God because we proved decisively we could not get it right? Before we become all self-righteous about self-righteousness (as I absolutely want to do), we are compelled to remember that we all carry the hypocrisy gene and it comes in all shapes and sizes.
Hypocrisy isn't just looking down our noses at and rejecting people who do things of which we selectively disapprove. It is also claiming to be Christian and then wantonly engaging in unrepentant sin. From that standpoint, every single one of us need to be in a posture of humble and grateful dependence on the cross. Thank you, Jesus.
I will leave judgment to those better equipped to level it. I've done worn out my gavel trying to sort stuff out and am forced to conclude I'm not qualified. I trust God to give me peace about my wrestling with hypocritical folks of every stripe. Also since surely, I've been one, too. Lord, have mercy.
Grace & peace,