Ignoring Jesus!

If there are words Jesus spoke that we have ignored more in Western Christianity than Matthew 23, I would have no idea what they would be.  Every day in almost every Christian institution we live as if he never said these words or at least didn’t mean them.

Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’

Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. 

Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.  

Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.  (Matthew 23:4-12 The Message)

Can you imagine what the church of Jesus Christ would like like in the world today if we had just followed these incredibly simple instructions? But we didn’t and instead created another religious system that exists as if Jesus was never here and if he didn’t die on a cross to change the entire relationship between shame-based humanity and the Father who loves us. Our institutions today and those who seek to lead them still violate all that Jesus warned the leaders about in his day not to do.

We still package the life of Jesus as a set of rules and expectations and demand people conform. Our so-called religious leaders still fight for celebrity, take the place of priority among the family, and encourage other people to be dependent on them rather than God himself.  We create an endless set of titles to  maintain the illusion that those who want to lead us are not simply brothers and sisters in a growing family.  And our failure to heed Jesus’s words not only horribly disfigures the bride of Christ but it also keeps people from finding the courage and freedom to find their life in him and to follow him as he leads them!

And it isn’t just the fault of those who set themselves up as experts in the life of Jesus, but those who seek out such experts to tell them what to do, rather than to learn to listen to and follow Jesus as he makes himself known to them.

And your expert doesn’t have to be a pastor, it can also be a popular speaker, author, or podcaster.  There are no experts, only brothers and sisters who serve you well only to the degree that they encourage your own relationship with the Father, rather than make you increasingly dependent on themselves. And those who seek the spotlight don’t really have a clue who he is.

Do you realize all that has been twisted in our Christian institutions would unravel if we only followed the simple things Jesus told us to do?

Why don’t we?

 

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11 Comments
  1. Lisa June 7, 2016 at 11:32 am

    As a young, new believer back in 1980, I was soaking up Jesus’ words like the life-giving water they are and when I came to Matt. 23, this really stuck with me. I could not understand how everyone around me seemed to simply ignore His instruction, as you have pointed out. So, in my blissful innocence, I went to the pastor of the church I was attending at the time and asked him point blank. Boy, did I get stomped on. So much of what I was seeing practiced in the various churches I attended over the years just didn’t line up with what I was reading in the gospels, but whenever I tried to bring this up, I’d get stomped on again. Finally gave up on church before the institution stomped the life out of me. It’s so very heartening to read your books and know that there hasn’t just been something wrong with me all these years. Thanks for your ministry, Wayne.

  2. James Barron June 7, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Thanks Wayne for your comments.

    The reason it is not done: Because of the money. Churches are set up primarily in a business model to make money to pay salaries and expenses. When the cash flow is threatened in any way then action is taken by leadership to correct “the problem” and what is best for the people is secondary to what is best for the cash flow. The business of religion is the business of managing sin and people. It is a multi-billion dollar business but Jesus put religion out of business when He took away sin. Few see it.

  3. Stephen Markey June 7, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Why don’t we follow the simple things Jesus told us to do? We have been programmed to follow logic (Roman Grecko mindset). It is not about receiving love. His love is what changes us. We respond becasuse He loves us to overflowing. As new creations baptized in His love we can do nothing but love and serve because our heart desire is His desire.

    • Chad Arment June 8, 2016 at 6:46 am

      I’d suggest the opposite. We’ve been programmed to follow emotional appeals and Scriptural manipulation. There’s nothing logical about following a pastor rather than following Christ.

  4. Roger and Gerri Taylor June 7, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Spot on Wayne. Well said!

  5. Ruth Bartlett June 7, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    It is only when we actually step out from all that mumbo-jumbo that we see it as it really is, especially if we were brought up from birth in a denomination or sect. Jesus certainly is not the head of the church in many religious organizations. Loved reading this passage from the Message version. Thank you for sharing Wayne.

  6. Pat Lacoursiere June 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more Wayne. I love the message version of this verse.

  7. Ollie Muff June 8, 2016 at 1:21 am

    On a positive note, I am sure thankful for all those hidden saints who press on and swim upstream. Folks like Lisa who posted the first commen. Like those in the many 24-7 prayer initiatives who have no agenda but to bless and restore. Like Lydie and Danny in Ibiza https://24-7prayer.com/blog/2587/evicted-at-gunpoint-in-ibiza-s-forgotten-city-pray-for-sa-pe-a
    or like you Wayne, and all the rest of us working folks. We all have some sort of business model, even though it is usually upside down from the worlds point of view. Brothers a sisters who press on with Jesus, whether inside or outside the man-made religious mess that we will probably always have around us. Thanks for pressing on Wayne.

  8. Jeremy June 8, 2016 at 2:50 am

    Yeah! Thanks for this!

  9. Living Liminal June 8, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    “Our institutions today and those who seek to lead them still violate all that Jesus warned the leaders about in his day not to do.”

    Since being hounded out of the institutional church, I’ve been astounded (and slightly horrified!) by how little the way it functions lines up with what Jesus taught and modelled, and how much it just replicates the very system that Jesus actually denounced. Talk about blind guides! I think Jesus’s words about man’s traditions nullifying the word of God are still entirely apt.

  10. Hannah June 10, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Hierarchy, dependence have become dirty words, because they have been twisted. The purpose of hierarchy in relationship, is facilitating care taking. The purpose of care taking is providing an environment for children/people to realize their full human potential. When we depend on those who are caring for us, we can rest play grow. It is only when someone takes charge of meeting our attachment needs, that we can finally rest and then play and then grow.

    The problem is when immature people seek to take someone under their wing, and they aren’t providing the space for development and growth. They need to be needed and that is where the problem is. Because they will either intently or unintentionally stunt growth.

    Yes, Papa is our primarily attachment, He is our Alpha (the one we look up to and depend on). The problem happens, when we have people that haven’t experienced being at rest. Because the relationship during childhood and beyond didn’t provide that. So what we do as older sisters and brothers, is we mother and father them, we take them under our wings, meet their attachment needs and provide guidance, once they are very attached to us, and they trust us, then we can introduce them to Papa, this is what we call match-making and bridging attachment. So we slowly move their dependence on us, to Papa, till they are secure in that relationship, then we can step back and just be fellow siblings with them.

    This is how the church is supposed to function, like one big family. Where their is grandparents, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, cousins, brothers and sisters.

    The problem is when hierarchy become rigid, and lacks movement, it’s supposed to be fluid, to be ever changing and growing. Like in marriage, there is hierarchy of care taking, though it’s supposed to be fluid, husband and wife are supposed to take turns caring for one other.

    The problem we see in marriages, if they are too immature and both are trying to get their needs met and neither is seeking to take care. And another problem is when it is just like a parent/child relationship, where one is always taking care and the other is always dependent. The answer to this, is someone needs to take charge of the dependent, it probably would be better if it wasn’t the spouse, we would want to step in as a big brother or sister and seek to meet those needs, so that the couple’s relationship functions as it’s meant too. And someone also needs to take under their wing, the stuck alpha in the relationship, so that they can finally rest and be taken care of.

    So when we are deciding whether a couple is ready for marriage, we are looking for signs of Adaptation(that they can feel their sadness, grief, and disappointment), Emergence (a strong sense of personhood), Integration (They can mix feelings, thoughts and impulses, they see their perspective as well as another’s, they can reflect, see beyond black and white thinking). When we see this we know that they are ready. And they could be 18 years old, it’s not age that decides this, it’s having the conditions that are conducive for growth, provided during childhood.

    I also what to share the six ways of attaching, (we need all of them to have a secure relationship with Papa and fellow humans)
    -Senses(proximity)
    -Sameness(being like)
    -Belonging(being part of) and loyalty(listen and obey*)
    -Significance(mattering)
    -Love(attached at the heart)
    -Being known(psychological intimacy).

    When we hear this statement, “They are too attached.” And it’s said in a negative way. There is no such thing as being too attached, when we are attached with all six roots, we are free to be ourselves and have togetherness.
    The problem is insecure attachment, only attaching in the more early roots, like proximity, where we always have to be close to those we are attached too, this is why people are on facebook, texting and etc, they are seeking proximity, they can’t bear to be apart. And with sameness, this is were you see conformity. The attachment isn’t deep enough. And then when you see belonging and loyalty, where the greatest infidelity is not being loyal to the group or family. Still attachment isn’t deep enough. We need to go all the way.

    This is a great quote, he was talking about marriage and parenting, and when the word separation is used, it’s taking about being physically away from those you are attached too:

    “When the attachment is shallow, then separation makes the heart wander. When attachment is deep, then separation makes the heart grow fonder.” -Gordon Neufeld

    The reason a spouse cheats, is because first, they are immature, they lack their integrative functioning, they have no self control And second the attachment to each other, isn’t deep enough.

    *Obey/obedience comes from attachment. Compliance comes from fear (alarm).
    Attaching modes: Alpha and dependent. (A true Alpha is relaxed and confident, because they are in touch with their loving hearts and wise minds)
    Root emotions: Pursuit, Frustration and Alarm.
    Impulse to fulfill desire or react & caring about impact = self-control

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