Hi this is a message I shared reciently at a Church I help out with from time to time. Just something to think about.
Useless Religion or a living relationship?
Luk 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
This was an educated man who was powerful in the Jewish religion. Possibly he was a scribe for the Priests but he had a problem in his life and that was he had useless religion. He had given Jesus a good answer but followed it up with sheer stupidity. WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR? What a dumb statement. I guess we are like him in some ways though because we want to limit who our neighbor is.
Luk 10:30 And Jesus answering said, A certain [man] went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded [him], and departed, leaving [him] half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked [on him], and passed by on the other side.
Here we see two religious people, leaders in their faith. A Priest or as we would think of today a Pastor or an Elder in the church seeing a person in need and doing nothing. He didnít want to invest the time or resources to help this person in need. He didnít want to get his fingers dirty on such a one, I guess in todays way of things he needed to delegate that to someone lower on the totem pole to handle the problem.
Next came a Levite another religious person who also happened to be involved in the religious system. In our churches today we would call them associates, leaders, deacons or any one else with a delegated role in running the church. This leader also avoided the situation because it may be beneath him or he didnít want to get dirty messing with such a person. Jesus did not like religious people and he called them down many times as we are about to see.
Mat 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men's shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers.
Here we se Jesus pointing out how useless the priest and Levites religion was they didnít lift a finger to help this person out. Useless religion will load you up with all kinds of rules and regulations to observe but has no GRACE in it at all.
Mat 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ.
Useless religion seeks to be seen of men. If the priest or Levite had come across that man when there was a crowd around they probably would have made a great scene of how compassionate they were by helping the man or organizing a committee to get it done.
Useless religion seeks recognition and titles. Look at how many so called Bishops there are now in Protestant churches now, not counting Apostles and other titles. We are not to seek titles and to be recognized by man because of our titles. We are to love God and our neighbors and donít seek to draw attention to what we are doing or where we are in the Church.
Back to the original story we see a Samaritan coming to the rescue. This would really offend the religious crowd because the Samaritans were hated and looked down upon.
Luke10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion [on him],34 And went to [him], and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave [them] to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Mat 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Who was the servant here? Was it the Priest? The Levite? NO it was the hated Samaritan. Useless religion has itís folks it likes and those it doesnít. Some times it's skin color, other times it's your social status, do you fit into our club mentality? How do we discriminate agains our brother in the church today?
Mat 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Useless religion in action the priest and Levite were sure to pay their tithes and make a show of it in the process but they neglected mercy when there was a clear need of mercy.
Mat 23:24 [Ye] blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 [Thou] blind Pharisee, cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men's] bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Useless religion plays a pretty good game. It looks so nice on the outside but is dead and rotting on the inside. When a person is just going through the motions of religion they are dying inside because the disease of Sin is eating them alive from the inside out. The Pharisees made such a show of cleansing dishes and cups to look holy but were a stench in Gods nostrils because their heart wasnít fixed towards God. Many times we think if we keep our Churches list of well I do this and I donít do that then were all right with God. Mere formalism and trying to keep law or rules will kill you. Only Grace and Gods mercy through a relationship with Jesus Christ and faith in him alone makes us right with God.
GRACE SAVES LAW KILLS.
Back to the original story we have a Priest a Levite and a Samaritan seeing a person in need. Only one put legs on his religion. Jesus asked the Lawyer the following in Luke 10:36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
God wants us to have a real relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Not useless religion by trying to look good and keeping the law or a list of rules and regulations. Useless religion is external something to be seen of men and desirous of mens praise. A Living relationship is from the heart and only seeks Gods approval. So examine your life and your attitude and your heart. Do you posses unless religion or a living relationship with Jesus Christ?