This week’s Scripture lesson for August 29 takes us into the heart of the matter – why bother with religion, anyway? A lot of folks these days claim that people who go to church are hypocrites, and in the passage from Mark 7:1-8, Jesus agrees with them – if in fact people who go to church are going so that everyone sees them doing the Right Thing and they have the right to call out others for doing the Wrong Thing. Jesus HATES that. For Jesus, that’s not the reason to belong to a church or believe in God.
The reason is to always question why we think we know the Right Thing to do, and be prepared to find that our motivation may not have anything to do with God. The reason is to always confess that we LOVE to be the ones doing the Right Thing and calling everyone else out for doing the Wrong Thing, but Jesus would dish out a little tough love and call us hypocrites for doing that.
I find this passage one of the most hopeful ones I’ve read in a long time, for this moment in our country where so many are convinced they know the Right Thing and are calling out others who disagree. Jesus would say, if we’re so convinced that we have lost the ability to really understand our neighbor, then we aren’t following God – we’re holding on to human tradition and defending it with human pride.
At a time when we’re all struggling to know the Right Thing to do with COVID, come with me into the hope that’s in that — admitting the struggle — listening to how it’s hard for each one of us — and finding that we can still act on what we believe is the Right Thing, but we don’t have to act like we KNOW it and no one else does.