Religious people annoyed the hell out of Jesus. This may be why, when he began his mission, he did not stroll into the Temple with recruitment posters.
Rather he went to the haunts of the riff-raff and chose as leaders not the religious but the irreligious–rowdy hot-tempered fishermen, a tax collector, a terrorist, et. al. He chose those more likely to be aware of their own faults and failings, instead of those who hid their faults from everyone, including themselves. As Jesus wraps up his Sermon on the Mount, he lets loose this zinger:
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
I had a wise old seminary professor who reminded his students, “Remember: Jesus always had a word of grace for those outside the faith, and a word of judgment for those inside the faith. (e.g. “Woe unto ye Scribes and Pharisees!”). My professor lamented that the church generally does the opposite–gives a pass to itself, while judging and condemning those outside its walls.
But it’s not only the church that commits this error. Self-awareness doesn’t come easy to any of us. Two thousand years ago, Marcus Aurelius observed that, quite often, what most annoys us about others are characteristics that exist in ourselves. When we see these faults and foibles bubbling up in others, we pounce plank-eyed (see Jesus quote above) on those others.
In Monday’s (7/25) podcast episode, I will share three little stories in which the self-righteous manage to hoist themselves by their own petards. The podcast will become available at 4:00 a.m. on Monday, July 25, at this link:
I hope you’ll take about 15 minutes to listen to it!
C’mon wid it!