“Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew their thoughts.” – Luke 6:7-8a
Since Jesus’ physical coming to earth, neither He nor His message has been very popular, especially with the super religious people who refer to feel as though they are honoring God by their super religious actions, rather than truly honoring God with their hearts. They like to see if they can catch Jesus or His followers doing something they don’t consider to be holy.
“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!'” – Luke 18:11
Some people today find themselves surprised by the judgment of outwardly religious people who pretend to love Jesus. Personally in the past few years I have spent in what’s affectionately known as the “Bible Belt” of the Southern USA, I have been absolutely appalled by people who seem nice out in the general public, but when I attended their little Bible study group, I found it focused on the messenger rather than the message. There also were literally a bunch of people who thought of themselves as great Christians literally standing around comparing the good deeds they had done over the past week since the last study session! I literally felt sickened. This supposed religious group was in no way honoring God – they were building themselves up in order to feel like good Christians. In addition, it was clearly a “holier than thou” religious clique that made it clear through looks and sideways glances that I was in no way a part of their group. How does this honor God in any way, when someone thinks they’re so righteous that they push other brothers and sisters in Christ away, because they don’t consider them to look as holy?
I soon realized that I shouldn’t find this at all surprising. After all, there were Pharisees in Jesus’ day, and there are modern day Pharisees all over the world today too. Jesus promised that those of us who are truly following after Him in spirit and in truth will not find ourselves very welcome or popular in so-called religious groups. He said that we shouldn’t worry about that, but rather focus on Him. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves, and take up their cross and follow Me.'” (Matthew 16:24)
Rather than try to fit in where we aren’t wanted and customs and works are more important to the people than Jesus, let us work with brothers and sisters who are truly seeking Him in spirit and truth, not just in outward, visible deeds, and reach this world for Christ together, rather than building ourselves up and tearing others down.