Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Human Do's

Mark Ch.7

"7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:

11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.

12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;

13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye."

     The Pharisees had come up with what they thought was a work-around God's law regarding caring for parents.  A person was able to say that they were dedicating their inheritance and property to the service of the Temple.  This sounds all holy and pious, of course.  Having done so, technically the Temple owned all their wealth.  They, personally, however, were allowed to live off the proceeds from that property as long as they lived.  This practice was called Corban.  However, since they technically owned nothing, they were not required to provide for aging parents or sick siblings or any family for that matter.  Jesus flat out condemns this practice.  His charge is that their traditional practice made God's law to no effect.  Yet, again, the Pharisees had technically fulfilled the law, but really missed the whole point.

     Lest we think this does not apply to us today, we should consider how often church members dedicate so much time and wealth to the church that they think they can nullify their family obligations.  There are those that spend every spare minute over at the church failing to take their day of rest, failing to spend time with their spouses, fail to spend time with their children and still, as here, fail to care for aging parents.  There are some that tithe even at the expense of putting themselves into financial jeopardy.  The worst of this matter is that there are pastors and leaders that encourage this type of behavior, insisting that it is a "sacrifice for God," when the reality is that it is a sacrifice to themselves where church growth even to a mega-church means more power and money for that pastor.

     What is lacking here is the truth of the basis of the church. It is not we that spread the church, but the Holy Spirit.  It is not our work that builds the church.  Christ builds his church.  To operate in such a manner, even for a church-- a "holy" purpose-- is a sin.  It is the sin of pride bourne out by the arrogance to think that without "me," "I" am so important, that without "my" work, "my" dedication, "my" church will not grow.  It is not "my" church.  It's Christ's church.  If you take a day off a week as ordered, His church will still grow.  If you place your resources, your wealth, your time to your family, your spouse, your children-- they are yours-- Christ's church will still grow.

     One of the most prominent idols in Western culture is "work," and not just for the work-aholic.  Too often in Western culture, men and increasingly women are defined by their work.  It affords them their social status & forms the basis of their self-image and self-worth.  This is why we hear frequently of the man or woman who is "disabled," no longer "able" to "be" what they were in their jobs previously, degenerating into despair and sometimes suicide.  They have defined themselves in terms of their career and when unable to fulfill the requirements of the job, they cease to see any value in their life.  It is not just the coveting of power, status or wealth.  It is the mistake of defining ourselves in terms of what we "do" rather than what we "are."  "Are" is a form of "to be."  "Do" is an action.  We are "human beings" not "human do's."

     This is not to say we should not do work to serve others, even the church.  It is not to say that in extraordinary circumstances and opportunities that sometimes huge sacrifices are not required.  It is to say that day-to-day operations, whether in business or church work can not be at the sacrifice of family responsibilities.  It is the mark of a cult that says you must offer all your produce, all your wealth, your family, your time to the cult and any church or ministry that operates similarly is operating on the same basis as a cult.  No church should require or knowingly accept a member's time and money on such a basis.  Those that do must go back and thoroughly read this exchange and upbraiding from our Lord.

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