by David Brenneman
Am reading in Matthew this morning and Jesus had had enough of some of the things that the Pharisee's were saying He and His Disciples ought to be doing.
Doing things that were for the sake of appearance, not because of any real need to be done. Doing it to 'look' religious. This too is in the world today.
Many places and peoples set up things to look like God's there when in reality the passage that Jesus quoted from Isaiah rings as true today as it did back then. "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.".
Nobody really likes to look like they don't know what they're doing. I certainly do not. I get extremely uncomfortable when in certain situaitons and I just want to run from the room, even if I know the people there. Having issues in socal situations has been a problem of mine for all my life. If you notice me actually comfortable in a social situation...it's because of what God has done, not what I've brought to the table.
Many in the entertainment world, in the political world, even in a great deal of religious circles concerning many mega-churches, go through the elaborate in order to present an appearance. A very powerful example of somewone who put on a show for sake of appearances and wasn't noticed until too late was Robin Williams. Nobody knew or understood that he was hiding such personal pain. We can probably add Naomi Judd to that list too.
Add to the mix the massive problem that most do not want to get involved in helping someone else in distress. They want all the good stuff but don't want to go through any of the bad to get there. It is extremely evident when both the person recording a video of someone in distress and the dozens that pass them by rather than stopping to help would rather get it on video than be a caring human being.
The Jewish leaders loved to put on things for sake of appearances. They wanted a Christ that would agree with their rules and regulations. Wanted a Messiah that would laud them for their efforts. They added hundreds and hundreds of rules to what God had said in the Old Testament only because they could. The people were basically afraid of them and wouldn't confront them. Jesus both would and did. What was different this time was that Jesus didn't just speak out against them, He did so as one who spoke with authority. There was something about Jesus's condemnation of them that always hit a nerve with them. Others had likely spoken against them and in doing so in their own power and own wisdom were squashed and done away with. Not so with the Lord of all Creation.
Appearances. We go through so much in spending on appearances. We go through so much money spent on diet fads and programs that do not work to improve a health problem. Programs do not work. The culture has been crafted to accept this false idea. It's easily searched that food companies have crafted foods to make specific one's addictive for a reason. It feeds the medical industry. Medicine for decades has been a business not a service. They want repeat customers. They only work on what is needed to maintain a 'standard of care' not to heal or to cure. Healed people, cured people have no need for a doctor.
In much the same way these Jewish leaders, and many even today, craft what is said to keep people coming back for all the wrong reasons. They take advantage of people's emotions and feelings in order to keep them ensnared into a world that they do not need to be in and shouldn't be in.
Jesus tells many, that they need to depart from Him for He never knew them. They did all kinds of things in His Name but never had a real relationship with Him. Just as these so-called leaders never had a real relationship with the God they said they followed. Their hearts were far from God, just as Jesus had said.
Are you in a real relationship with Jesus? Or are you going through the motions only looking to feel better about yourself? Look in the mirror, will there be a person looking back at you that is honestly a doer of the Word of God rather than a hearer only? Do you spend what you make solely on you and the wants of your family and do not care about those that God cares about? Yesterday's sermon had to do with giving, both of ourselves as well as our financial contributions. Would you be characterized as a giver or as one who passes by those in need because of how it would make you look?
Is your walk with Jesus genuine? Or do you only ask Him to come out of a room in your heart when there's a problem you can't handle? Do you 'try to do good' rather than actually be the good that God says is right?
Are you part of the problem in misleading people or are you a worker in the harvest as Jesus said to pray for? I'm not knocking good health. What I'm lead to use as material isn't of me. I just write as directed. It IS good to be healthy but to obsess over it or to rely on medical maintenance drugs when it's not necessary or on so called meal plans that cause people to go into unnecessary debt...that's not good. To those I strongly suggest what the Bible says: for any who lack wisdom to ask of God who gives freely to all who ask. Similiarly...do not be wise in your own estimation but understand what the will of God is. That being our sanctification because of our justification before God.
Will your life be characterized as these to whom Jesus was confronting? It doesn't escape the notice that these people got a 2nd chance to change. Possibly among them was Nicodemus who indeed came to Jesus in secret in where we find John 3:16's conversation. Yet at the same time quite possibly one or more times we read of these Pharisee's going off on Jesus, one of them COULD have been Saul who later became Paul. When Jesus separates people at the last judgment...there will be no second chances.
When you look in the mirror is there a real, right, relationship with Jesus to be seen? Or are you more concerned about your image? When you go out in public are you at all approachable in your demeanor by others? Are you living out the life God intended for you or are you doing your own thing albiet with a twist? Giving God what's "His" on Sunday's and doing your own thing the rest of the week? Would you be characterized by others as one who prefers others above yourself?
Our feelings and emotions will always get us into trouble. We spend billions per year on things to make us forget or to remember. We spend billions on spur of the moment decisions that ultimately fail. We get involved with multi-level marketing schemes and don't even see them for what they are, because they keep promising and we keep believing that they will deliver. We get caught up in the ideas that you're not successful unless you have a degree to flaunt in front of others. We get caught up on our clothing purchases, our car purchases, truck purchases. Our 'toys' that we keep going into debt to get in order to keep up appearances. We do all this while we drive on by those in need. While we walk past those in need. Even when traveling we make sure to only go to those places that bring us temporary happiness and joy rather than to see how people there are really living and to help them. Buying things there we don't need and as I heard in a video snippet...bringing home that vacation in the form of prolonged debt. Still paying it off months and maybe years after it's been over.
All in keeping up appearances...in trying to look like someone who's successful in the world's eyes rather than one who's succeeded in the life that God designed for us. They aren't the same. Our first example was Robin Williams. His ability to make people laugh yet it all just hid a pain he wouldn't share. It's quite probable that he didn't have a relationship with Jesus because of what we know of his manor of death. Others who had incredible IQ's who died and at no point in their public life ever acknowledged a relationship with God...if these people--regardless of how they contributed to mankind---died without Christ, they are in Hell. Their appearances did them no good. Their not being genuine did them no good.
Make sure your life is indeed, as the Scriptures say, is hidden in Christ with God.
Make sure that you're not living a lie, that you're not trying to keep up with appearences in order to not be seen as an embarrassment to the world.
Make sure that you are not lying to yourself about what's important and what isn't.
Jesus set the standard. His workmanship in every person who is saved in Christ Jesus is to make us more like Him, not make us more acceptable to the world.
Take that very personally. Please do. Jesus said they hated Me they will hate you too. To be like Christ rather than the world isn't going to make you popular.
To be like Christ is going to make you different than the world for a good reason...so that the world would see the goodness of Jesus and not ourselves.
If you're in Christ you have a job to be doing to the best of your ability as assigned by the Spirit of God in His Church...are you doing it? Or are you doing your own thing that has all the appearances of something from God but isn't what you were called to be doing? You must look in the mirror and ask God to reveal the truth about you to you. I can't tell you, your parents can't tell you, your best friend can't tell you. The only one who searches the hearts and knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart can tell you...and that one is Jesus. The one who's doing His work in you.
I struggle in social situations and sometimes I know why other times I do not. Many times, in hinde sight, it's because God's moving me through something.
Psalm 23 says more than we realize and what we need to hear.
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I will not be in need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His Name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the preesence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Certainly goodness and faithfulness will follow me allt the days of my life, and my dwelling will be in the house of the Lord forever." NASB.
That valley of the shadow of death isn't just what things in life that have every appearance of looking ugly and evil.
Evil, as easily seen in our world today, is being made to look like good things. We're warned in the Scriptures to beware of those who call good evil and evil good.
Evil can look like so many 'good' things to us. Nursery rhymes are written about it and we miss it's hidden meaning. Children enticed by all that's good and it's a trap.
When you look in the mirror what do you see? Are you seeing what you want to see or are you willing to take a step and ask Jesus to show you the real you?
Are you willing to take a step and ask Him if what you're doing is what He wants of you? Are you? Sadly I know of many who have turned away from their calling to do what they think God's wanting of them and the fruits bear witness that their perception of truth isn't true in God's eyes. Jesus said you would know people by their fruits.
Pray. Ask the Spirit to show you the truth about you. It may cost you, it may actually finally fulfill you. You may find yourself going down an entirely different path than you think is right for you to be on. The road to Heaven has thousands of exits that all promise so many things that all look like they are from God. That's what Satan does along our way. James 1:5 NASB "But if any of you lacks widom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.". He's not going to come and make fun of you or mock you because you asked or for why you asked. But...He wants you to ask. Will you?
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