This is post #13 of a series entitled RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ. We hope you’ll enjoy this series of 27 podcasts and blogs that focuses a bit deeper on the first five days of what we now call Holy Week. Using the Gospel text found in Matthew 21 through 25, we explore the major differences between organized religion and true relationship with Christ. Practical sessions that give us Jesus’ view of spirituality as compared to the religiousness found in so many people today. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Today’s Lectio Divina: As the Pharisees were regrouping, Jesus caught them off balance with His own test question: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He?” They said, “David’s son.” Jesus replied, “Well, if the Christ is David’s son, how do you explain that David, under inspiration, named Christ his ‘Master’? God said to my Master, ‘Sit here at My right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’ Now if David calls Him ‘Master,’ how can He at the same time be His son?” That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they quit asking questions for good. Matthew 22: 41-46 (MsgB)
Have you ever played one of those Bible trivia games?
As a pastor for over thirty years, I would often get pulled into one of those games by one of my parishioners, but quite honestly, I never enjoyed playing.
It seems that in the world of religion, there is this subtle idea that the more knowledge one has about God, the Bible, and such, the more spiritual one is.
And you want to know something here?
That idea is totally false.
You see, Jesus had no interest in playing Bible trivia with the religious scholars of His day. And as we see from today’s passage in Matthew’s Gospel, it was not because He didn’t have the answers to all the questions. As a matter of fact, from what we read here in today’s text, I’d suggest you or I would never try to best the Master when it comes to a “Who knows the Bible better?” contest!
For Jesus of Nazareth, true spirituality had nothing to do with who could quote from memory Psalm 23 or who could name the twelve tribes of Israel. Yet today, this game of Bible trivia still seems to be the primary way we measure “successful” discipleship in the Church that bears the name of the Master.
Sadly, our westernized society, where status in life is so very often associated with the amount of knowledge we have, has produced a form of Christianity that honors what information one has in his or her head, while completely ignoring the amount of Jesus one has in their heart.
Jesus actually predicted this scenario earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, when He said…
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!” Matthew 7: 21-23 (NIV)
As I see it, the risk is very high in our day and age where many proclaiming Christians will be able to give the appearances of spirituality only to be found out as Pharisees or Sadducees who can quote all the scriptures but are found to be empty inside when it comes to important things like faith, hope, and love.
So, my friends, let’s pay better attention to the warnings of Jesus. Let’s stop, look, listen and respond to Jesus’ interaction with these religious leaders of His day. As painful as it might be to become gut honest about my faith, I must ask these hard questions of myself…
Am I pursuing a life in Christ where my knowledge about Him far outweighs my intimate relationship with Him?
Am I guilty of being like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time who portrayed themselves as godly people, only to be embarrassed by the Son of Man when push comes to shove?
Am I winning at Bible trivia, but actually losing the game when it comes to living a Christ-centered life?
My Prayer: I’m embarrassed to say, Jesus, that there has been a serious deficiency in my spirituality over the years. I’ve believed that the more I know about God equates with my being increasingly intimate with You. From what I see in today’s passage, it’s very possible that I can have all the right answers to Bible trivia but be totally embarrassed when it comes to “rightness” with God. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. Draw me closer to You that You might truly know me. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
My Questions to Ponder: Where am I portraying to the outside world a deep knowledge of God, yet like those Jesus addresses in Matthew 7, am I only play-acting when it comes to true intimacy with Christ? What changes to my faith do I need to make? What humility needs to be better embraced, so that I move from knowledge about religion into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus?
So, what are you hearing from Jesus as we take this journey into the first 5 Days of Holy Week?
Religion or Relationship: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ.
A 27-session Lenten blog series from Matthew’s Holy Week Gospel.
Throughout the Lenten season (Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday), you and I will take a deeper look at Matthew 21-25. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our blog series home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!