Monday, May 18, 2009

Was that for Me?

Do you ever read the preface to books? I usually don't. I've never completely understood them- the book starts at Chapter 1, right? So why should I read anything before that?

"God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, for all the people and for the priests: "When you held  fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You're interested in religion, I'm interested in people." Zechariah 7: 4-6 (The Message)

Often times we flip right past the Old Testament. We skip by the books with the names we can't pronounce and the odd stories that we struggle to understand. We get to the "good stuff"- the stories about Jesus and the teachings of Peter and Paul. But we've ignored the preface- the reason for those stories....the explanations that help us understand what Jesus and Paul are talking about. 

Zechariah's words are put into action by Christ. Jesus annoyed the Pharisees of his day because he cared about people more than he cared about religion. He dismissed rules so that he could help people. That was extremely irritating for the class of people that knew the law (religion) well, and expected Jesus to abide by it....even to the point of ignoring people to follow the rules. Of course, Jesus attended to people, and suffered the consequences.

I think sometimes we get too swept up in our own religion- we think we know what's right and expect others to know as well. So when they mess up, we lack compassion. I know I often get caught up in what "needs" to be done for church...and I wonder how many people I've not cared for because I'm worried about the tasks of church & religion.

Care more about people than you do about religion. 


Jason Huffman said...

Amen, Russ. I've been in the Methodist church for 3 years and 18 days. While I love the church and the emphasis placed on living out our faith with our works, my biggest complaint is that we don't focus on the Old Testament. In three years, I can count the Old Testament sermons I've heard on one hand. Even John Wesley himself emphasized the Old AND New Testaments. Yes, Jesus lived out what was taught in the Old Testament, but I think we've missed something great if all we focus on is his life and teaching. it's almost like having Christmas every day without having to wait--without the wait, it kind of loses its meaning. Good stuff.

Russ Bowlin said...

Jason- Thanks. I know I need to make a conscious effort to read and teach the Old Testament...but usually the teachings of Jesus and other NT writers make for a pretty good start to a sermon or Sunday school lesson.... the OT can be challenging, but SO rewarding as it brings so much to light. I like the comparison to having Christmas without the wait...great idea...I'm all for it. (Kidding). Thanks again. Do you teach on OT stuff much? I'd love to hear about passages that you've had good discussions/studies... Grace & Peace, friend.

Anonymous said...

Is it supposed to be new or knew?

- Clifton

Russ Bowlin said...

new or knew what?

Russ Bowlin said...

C- I now see what you're talking about. I'll fix the typo. I've been told not to proof my posts because "blogging is more about thought sharing and less about proper grammar"... but typos annoy me and I try not to make them. Anyway, thanks for pointing it out