Wednesday in the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 11:37-54

Holiness and Hypocrisy

The more I read the Bible, the more I see that holiness means more than anything else.  I do not say this to detract from evangelism, as this is of importance to evangelicals.  But we may be sure that those who strive to walk before the Lord in holiness will be evangelists both in word and deed.

Before us today are the Pharisees and lawyers, and their blatant hypocrisy.  A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, which proved to be a huge mistake.  He was astonished that Jesus did not wash his hands before eating.  (You see the same concern in Mark 7:1-23.)  It was a matter of following the tradition of the elders, not hygiene.  This allows Jesus to begin his sermon.  The Pharisees were majoring on minors: washing the outside of the cup while not showing concern for the inside, which was a metaphor for their own unwashed hearts; tithing but showing no concern for justice or hospitality for the poor or outcast; and finally, being more concerned for looking good than being good.  And the lawyers were even worse: burdening the people with meticulous laws that they didn’t follow themselves and building the tombs of the prophets that their own fathers killed–which was probably a reference to the prophet standing before them whom they would soon murder just as their fathers had done before.

Jesus had strong words for them.  Their religion was all a show, a display, a shadow without substance.  There was no love, no concern, no compassion for the needy, for those drowning in sin.  And how does the church in America stack up?  I do not believe our trouble is legalism, as some may protest.  I once read where C. S. Lewis said that one of the devil’s most insidious tricks is to make a church think that its biggest problem is exactly the opposite of what it really is (Screwtape Letters, I think).  I see churches more concerned for the entertainment value of their “productions,” who think that they are to provide a “worship experience” for their “customers,” who have allowed the consumer mentality, market approach, and business model to invade their sanctuaries (oops, I’m sorry), “auditoriums.”  Things must look and feel “professional.”  Invariably, the chief concern is “getting people in,” numbers, budgets–and this is how we measure success.  In other words, appearance dominates substance, just as with the Pharisees, only in a different way.  And worst of all, the gospel is watered down as it is cloaked in a garment not its own.  The gospel offends our tastes; it’s supposed to.  And to the extent we drape it in lights and sounds, to that extent we neuter it.  God calls us to be a church, not a troupe.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: