The Heart of Mathew 23

Kathy had called. I was in the shower so couldn’t take the call. I called her back.

“hello Kathy are you ready for the conference”?

“Not quite yet but I’ll be in a while. Do you want to pick me up…or?”

I’ll get you. Better be ready when I get there. It’s gonna be crowded and we need to get a good spot”

She laughed heartily. “Sure I’ll be waiting when you arrive”.

“Okay dear.” She can be a drag sometimes but she’s great company to have around especially on a day like this.

Word had gone around over the internet, Facebook, twitter and the news outlets, that a great Man of God was coming to town, the greatest evangelist that ever lived and was touring many cities in many countries of the world.

And indeed so many people and nations gathered here in the city of Houston, Texas to hear him preach. The Church has never been this excited, and so were many church leaders from the numerous Mega churches in the country and the world. They came in from Dallas, Louisiana, Atlanta, Washington DC, North Carolina and even from some African nations like Nigeria, and cities far and near to hear this wonderful evangelist. No one had ever seen or heard him preach face to face.

The leaders of the Pentecostal movement, Pastors of the well-known mega churches and dignitaries of Christian Broadcast Networks were ushered into seats in the front row as expected. They had flown in with their private jets, others had driven in their Lincolns, Cadillacs, Mercedes a Benz’s, Lamborghini and it was a spectacle to see them descend on our city. It was phenomenal. Nothing quite like it has ever been seen or heard before.

Countless regular, everyday people like my friend and I were in attendance; the disciples, you know the followers of Christ, the church goers, members of those mega churches and believers all around who could make their way here. This was promising to be a first of its kind extraordinary event…

renowned praise and worship leaders led the worship. It was out of this world. Heaven came down and glory filled the place…

Then the message came forth and all were in awe, mouths were agape, jaws dropped, for none had been quite as direct, they all recognized him.

And he spoke to the crowd….

‘The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses, …Kathy whispered into my ears “in today’s parlance that would be the word of God or the bible right?” “right” I replied.

‘ So, practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example’

“Really? What an indictment, and repudiation of the religious folks” Kathy spoke in my ears again.”Oh boy!, the first jab falls and some of those Juggernaut preachers must have flinched in their seats.”

and he went on;

‘For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden’.

“Woo, woo, woo! more and more jabs keep falling and it feels like Mohammed Ali in the boxing ring landing those body blows and upper cuts weakening his opponents.” Kathy keeps talking. I don’t know how to stop her. It’s so distracting and funny at the same time.

The man of God continued;

‘Everything they do is for show….

Aha! I almost jumped out of my seat. It was a good jab. Ironically, those front seated religious big wigs kept getting up in standing ovation. Are they blind and tone-deaf? They must not hear him. He’s talking about them. Can’t they get it?

‘…On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with scripture verses inside…and Kathy’s nonstop commentary interrupted once more. “instead of in their hearts” and she giggled.

‘…. and they wear robes with extra long tassels…

her voice said again “extra long”, but lacks the healing effect, it’s all for show. In the days of Christ the woman with the issue blood got healed touching one of those tassels at the hem of his robe”. Kathy knows her bible and I give her that.

‘And they love to seat at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues.

and her whispers came one more time ” like they are doing right now, see where they are all seated?” She said.

‘They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called “Rabbi”….

“you know too well what I’m saying right, those Pastors you all call special names?” said my good friend.

The message was still going on and I couldn’t help but wonder how those great men of God sitting in the front seats felt for I knew He was talking to them.( And this time a voice from deep within came… “no, no don’t be too quick to judge. I didn’t ask you to come here to judge, just listen and observe what I point out to you.”).

and the message continued…

‘Don’t address anyone here on earth as “Father” for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father’.

Wow! How about that!!! What about those who call their church leaders “Daddy”? does that count? Does it really matter? it’s not the same as the word Father now. Haba! People! That’s stretching it too far now?, ( I was thinking to myself). Kathy had stopped interrupting at this point. I guess she sensed the message was coming to a close.

Then as the message came to the end, I heard this last part of it:

‘the greatest among you should be a servant’.

Hmm… servants? who fly in private jets and drive in luxury cars and wear designer clothes and shoes, who live in mansions of opulence and splendor? How can they truly serve in such a capacity? Didn’t you just say that their “tassels are extra long” and their “prayer boxes are for show”? How can they bow down to serve? They are bugged down by the weight of their possessions?

Then the voice said to me: “how many times will I warn you about making these judgmental comments?” I was jolted back to my senses and Kathy my friend seemed more reflective than criticizing now.

As is often the case for most people, when we hear the word of God, our first instinct is to begin to judge others. Wives their husbands, husbands their wives, children their parents, instead of reflecting on what we’ve heard for ourselves and our own transformation.

Judge yourself, do you do these things? Don’t probe for the speck in your neighbor’s eyes, remove the log in yours first. Look within you. Reflect on your own life to see how you may not be practicing what you preach to others.

Perhaps, before you preach that wonderful sermon, preach it to yourself first, live it out so others can see the change in you and give glory to God on your behalf. Then take it to your pulpit, wherever God has set it up for you and preach your heart out without condemnation.


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