Matthew – Fulfilled.
Ah, winter is gone, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming and the grass is turning green again. That means the season of road construction is upon us. It seems every normal route to work or to merely get groceries has been blocked or rerouted. Detour signs are everywhere, causing delays and headaches. We must allow more time and thought to getting from point A to point B. I’m sure you feel our pain in your area.
The way to our church is even blocked because of bridge reconstruction. We have to go ten minutes or more out of the normal way, with many twists and turns. Our church leaders were wise. They printed nice signs and posted them all along the detour that said, “It’s worth it, you’re almost there!” The road closed to the church the week before Easter. Since the new way was made clear, with signs all along the way, about 500 new attenders came that Sunday!
The Spirit of this group is amazing. The people are genuinely in love with Jesus. They know they are not perfect so they point you to Jesus, doing everything they can to help you find and follow Jesus. The strategy is simple. Be real, following a real Savior and Lord. We know God and we are not Him. “Don’t be like me, be more and more like Jesus!”, seems to be the mantra.
They are not blocking the way, but paving a path to make it easy for us to find and follow our Savior and Lord and grow in His ways. This is why we keep attending. I am not asked to be someone else in the church but to be the created, forgiven me following Christ.
Jesus gave a powerful sermon to the leaders of the “church” that applies now. Read and ponder each word of admonishment. As “lifers” in the church, we all need to repent of being a roadblock at times. Evaluation of our motivation as a church is key to staying focused on what God requires of us.
Matthew 23, The Message
13 “I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either.
15 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned.
16-22 “You’re hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, ‘If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that’s nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that’s serious.’ What ignorance! Does the leather on the Bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands? And what about this piece of trivia: ‘If you shake hands on a promise, that’s nothing; but if you raise your hand that God is your witness, that’s serious’? What ridiculous hairsplitting! What difference does it make whether you shake hands or raise hands? A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless.
23-24 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?
25-26 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.
27-28 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.
29-32 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You build granite tombs for your prophets and marble monuments for your saints. And you say that if you had lived in the days of your ancestors, no blood would have been on your hands. You protest too much! You’re cut from the same cloth as those murderers, and daily add to the death count.
33-34 “Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars generation after generation—and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse.
35-36 “You can’t squirm out of this: Every drop of righteous blood ever spilled on this earth, beginning with the blood of that good man Abel right down to the blood of Zechariah, Barachiah’s son, whom you murdered at his prayers, is on your head. All this, I’m telling you, is coming down on you, on your generation.
37-39 “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Murderer of prophets! Killer of the ones who brought you God’s news! How often I’ve ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn’t let me. And now you’re so desolate, nothing but a ghost town. What is there left to say? Only this: I’m out of here soon. The next time you see me you’ll say, ‘Oh, God has blessed him! He’s come, bringing God’s rule!’”
Dear Heavenly Father,
We repent of times when we might have blocked others from finding and following you because of our own sin and insecurities. We do not want people to be like us! We pray those who are lost find you and follow YOU! Help us to join you in Your work to save the lost who are struggling without You. May we show the path, put up signs along the way, always pointing to You!
In Jesus Name, Amen