Psalm 130 (ESV)
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
Matthew 23:1-7 (MSG)
23 1-3 Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.
4-7 “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.’
Something I know is that God is God and I’m not. For better or worse, when I read things like the passage in Luke 8 where Jesus is told something like “hey Jesus – your family would like a backstage pass to see you” and “He replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’” Luke 8:21 (NIV) my first reaction is to think along the lines of “that was rude”!
However, let’s break that down a bit farther and look at it in the light of He’s God and I’m/You’re not. God isn’t about anything but living right. Yes, part of that is recognizing that He is God, not god, that what He says matters. The other part is about how to live a life that matters. The guidance He gives us on how to live, what is right and what is wrong, ties to how we’re wired as humans and He knows what’s best because He made us.
So, if your idea of God is wrapped up in the insanity of man made religion, with legalistic loads that no one could keep, with charlatans who package God’s Law as bundles of rules instead of life giving food and drink, that’s messed up and I’m sorry. That’s not how God wants it. Christ is pretty clear what He thinks about that.
As for the reaction to his mother and brothers? We are God’s first. Then our spouses. Then our kids. Then our families, our strangers, etc. until we get to ourselves.
That’s why Matthew 23:11-12 makes sense only in that context. “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. (MSG).
The truth is that we’ll walk through life creating inequities and through Christ, we’re forgiven. Minimizing those inequities isn’t wrapped up in religious fashion shows, it’s in following God’s Law, His Word, His intention as taught by Christ.