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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
September 2, 2006

     Jesus replied:
     You are nothing but show-offs! The prophet Isaiah was right when he wrote that God had said,
All of you praise me with your words,
but you never really think about me.
It is useless for you to worship me,
when you teach rules made up by humans.
     You disobey God's commands in order to obey what humans have taught.

Mark 7:6-8 (CEV*)

The temptation for religious leaders - and followers - to fall into the trap noted by Isaiah and reiterated by Jesus is a continuing one. Today people sometimes refer to “toxic religion” - religious systems which have degenerated into legalism and a performance mentality which is poisonous to the adherents.

Jesus, in his ministry, focused on God's commands being of the heart rather than the kind of rules that humans devise. He indicated that the law was summed up in love for God and one's neighbor. If we have this love in our heart, we will go beyond what the law requires but also sometimes we will not follow the letter of the law because the letter won't fulfill the spirit of the law in all circumstances.

How are we seeking to follow God? Are we focused on following religious rules devised by humans or are we focused on responding to God's love and living out that love fully in our lives?

Bill Samuel

* Contemporary English Version ©1995 American Bible Society.

©2006 Friends in Christ, Inc.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 09-Sep-2006 18:05:32 EDT