So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Jesus, “Why is it that your disciples do not follow the teaching handed down by our ancestors, but instead eat with ritually unclean hands?” Jesus answered them, “How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! You are hypocrites, just as he wrote: ‘These people, says God, honor me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me. It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach human rules as though they were my laws!’ “You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings.” Matthew 7:5-8 GNB
I have been a believer for more than 14 yrs and I have been involved with several mainstream denominations while on this journey. One thing that I have learned so far is that no one movement has all the answers. In fact, the reason we have so many denominations and movements is because leaders come to the conclusion that whatever piece of truth they have come to understand and so they must go off and teach this truth under a new name i.e. “1st Such and Such of….” I’ve said it before and I will as many more times as needed – “Denominationalism is nothing more than the dismemberment of the Body of Christ!” and the more “religious” we become about our personal set of beliefs, the harder it gets to teach the Truth instead of our truth.
In the above passage, the Pharisees and teachers of the law represent religion. Religion is about rules, hoping to make oneself acceptable in the eyes of God. Unfortunately, religion can only lead to death, never to life!
If we look close at this passage we can discover a simple truth within the questioning of Jesus – “Why is it that your disciples do not follow the teaching handed down by our ancestors…?” Did you catch it? Those who are Jesus’ (…your disciples do not follow…), follow His teachings not the teachings of men. When we follow the teachings of men we get bogged down in debate and striving (mostly debate). Jesus came to give us life more abundantly “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life---life in all its fullness.” John 10:10 GNB Jesus nailed it when He said, “These people, says God, honor me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me...” Works are the product of the flesh; worship is born of the heart.
Jesus also offers rest for the religious pursuit of the soul. Each one of us is born with the quest to find the answer to life and that quest can be satisfied only in Jesus! “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 GNB
Life Demands An Answer…God Is It!