Crossing the Chasm
". . . these will receive greater condemnation." Mark 12:40
Jesus saved His harshest words for the religious leaders. Here in this verse, He brings a series of charges against them:
- Prominence – they loved to walk about in long flowing robes.
- Prestige – they loved to be greeted with honor and respect.
- Popularity –they sat in seats in front of the arc of the covenant facing the congregation in full view of everyone.
- Position – honor was displayed by the seats they occupied around the table.
- Privilege – they valued their skills above those of others. They preyed on widows to support them financially in order to maintain a life of comfort.
- Posturing – they offered their prayers, not to God, but to display and exalt their pious spirituality.
The whole culture sickened Jesus. He had no camaraderie with the religious leaders. In fact, the chasm between the religious system and Jesus was so wide, the whole operation was worthless. Jesus didn't try to fix it, He walked away. What was designed to be a ministry to the people, had become a means for the leaders’ self-indulgence by trafficking in religion. They had lost the soul of their belief and didn't know it. This should come as a warning to all who are in church for what they can get out of it, and not what they put into it.
To be a true follower of Jesus, one must understand the difference between belief and faith. Our beliefs are to be an expression of our faith, born of a personal commitment to Jesus. If our beliefs are not grounded in a life-altering relationship with Jesus Christ, then the divide between belief and faith widens, rendering our witness inconsequential.
We are called to cross the chasm between belief and faith, from knowledge to experience. If our faith remains freeze-dried into a set of systems and codes, it becomes something we use for our own ends. We have to move beyond belief to faith. We begin by believing in Jesus, but move to something deeper and richer, to faith in Him. Faith in Jesus should move us in such a profoundly stirring way that we are free of all our religious ways.
God, spare us from ever having the same charges as the Pharisees aimed at us.