Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Problem of Religion.10

Many will come from the east and west, and enter joyfully the kingdom of heaven. 

But those who should have come in will be banished to the darkness outside. 

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." 

Although the Bible offers a downright bleak assessment of humanity (and surely our own experience affirms it) there is comfort in remembering that Jesus, in and through Whom the Universe was created, spoke simply that His words might serve as portals into Eternal Truth: the Mind and Heart of Almighty God. Obedience is the doorway to ever deepening understanding of His words and transformation to His likeness.
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Let us consider that the "righteousness" of the Pharisees and scribes may very well have been the gold-standard for the Jewish people and served an important purpose: it promoted a general awareness of right and wrong throughout the culture. Indeed, this "righteousness" demonstrated a certain fierceness for moral order and compliance. By contrast consider American culture where the fierceness of politically correct compliance is on the side of the morally depraved. 

For Jesus, it served as a platform from which to compare and contrast True Righteousness, marked by mercy and justice, with a joyless, loveless righteousness, marked by hypocrisy, legalism and condemnation, practiced by those who refused repentance when exposed by the very God of Right & True!

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To exceed a joyless, loveless, hypocritical, legalistic, condemning righteousness (which to this day remains fiercely active wherever people form communities) hard can that be?  All it requires is a firm hold on your cross, where suffering is fitted to each faithful follower designed to evoke increasing hunger and thirst for Him. It also requires a firm focus on the face of the One who alone can satisfy the longing to be like Him!

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; 
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
Psalm 17:15