The church is so full of controversial topics that many people choose to avoid certain subjects all together. However, many times, these topics cause people to make rash decisions based on their personal preferences.
To lay a foundation we must first understand Christ’s role on earth. His main objective was to bring salvation to a dead world. One of His many “side missions” so to speak, was to rid the world of religion. Don’t believe me?
37When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.
39Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41But give what is inside the dish [j] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
42“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
43“Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
44“Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”
45One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
46Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
47“Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. 48So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ 50Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.
52“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
53When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions,54waiting to catch him in something he might say.
Who were the Pharisees? The Pharisees were students of the Sadducees, which were the interpreters of the law. They knew the Torah inside and out. They read the law, interpreted the law, and contrary to Proverbs chapter 30, added to the law. They decided that washing your hands at the dinner table needed to be GOD’S LAW, so they made it law, and enforced it. There are 631 laws in the old testament, apparently, they weren’t satisfied with such a large number.
Jesus went on to rebuke them. Why? Because God was in their house, looking for a relationship, but all they wanted was to be religious. God detests religion… religion pushes people away from God and draws them closer to man and his rules, while a relationship draws people closer to God.
I love my wife with all my heart, therefore I will do what she wants me to do, and I won’t do what she doesn’t want me to do, because we love each other… not because there is a written commandment. Isn’t it odd that Abraham was holy before even the ten commandments were written? That tells me that it isn’t the law that makes us holy… it is love for God.
Isn’t it strange that the ten commandments are the only thing in the Ark of the Covenant? “thou shalt not wear linen mixed with cotton,” and “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves.” didn’t make it into God’s holy seat. Why? Because they were laws for the levites. There aren’t 631 laws that we must abide by, there are 10… and even that is impossible without God’s grace. It is your relationship with God that makes you holy, not your works.
Don’t elevate your preferences to the level of God’s law. In other words, if you don’t like cigarettes, that’s great… neither do I. However, nowhere in the Word does it say, “Don’t smoke cigarettes,” Sure we can argue that it’s bad for you, it causes cancer and bad breath, but will it send you to hell? You prefer not to smoke cigarettes, but don’t elevate your preference to the level of God’s law. Let’s do another. You may prefer singing hymns to contemporary rock worship, but don’t try to judge or condemn those with another preference. Neither will keep you from the gates of Heaven, and neither will put you before the gates of Hell.
There are some cut and dry, in-the-Bible-type laws that I can understand; homosexuality being one of them. God calls homosexuality an abomination, but He never calls smoking or eating meat or any other ridiculous, religious, man-made ideal such. Furthermore, Jesus turned water into wine, not grape juice. Be careful not to be like the Pharisee and twist the Bible to meet up with what you like or dislike.
Don’t misunderstand. I am not condemning church. I am not saying church is unnecessary. There is a difference between church and religion.Don’t seek after religion… seek after God.