Saturday, October 15, 2016

Where Is Our Emphasis

When John the Baptist came preaching (Luke 3), he told the people to change their mindsets ("repent"), and to bring forth fruit consistent with that change of mindset.

Three groups of people then asked him what they should do. He did not tell them to pray more, or to read their Bibles, or to go to church more consistently, or to give more to the Temple, or to preach/teach others.

He gave each group an answer based on personal economics:

To the multitudes he said, "If you have extra, share it with those who have nothing."

To the tax-office employees he said, "Don't charge more than has been appraised; you've no right to that extra."

To the soldiers he said, "Don't use your muscle to get into the 'Protection' racket, and don't be making false charges against anyone."

John's preaching was a "social" gospel, not a "religious" gospel.

And what did Jesus preach?

His sermon in his home town (Luke 4:16ff) was not about the importance of baptism, or instruction in how to pray, or an exposition of the minor prophets. It, too, was a "social" gospel - about bringing good news to poor people, healing the heart-sick, proclaiming freedom to the imprisoned, healing disease like blindness, providing relief to those who are at the end of their rope, and to proclaim a new regime, the rulership of God.

The Pharisees were all about getting right the legal aspects of religion. John and Jesus were all about meeting the needs of needy people. Jesus was about the internals ("wash the inside of the cup"), not the externals, and about the weightier matters of the law - justice, mercy, and loyalty (without neglecting the legalities, however).

Where is our emphasis?

Are we told to assemble to worship God, or to prod one another into doing good works? Are we told to assemble to faithfully execute specific rituals, or for each of us to build one another up using whatever gifting God has provided to each one of us?

Where is our emphasis?

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