Jesus went on to make these comments:
If you're honest in small things,
you'll be honest in big things;
If you're a crook in small things,
you'll be a crook in big things.
If you're not honest in small jobs,
who will put you in charge of the store?
No worker can serve two bosses:
He'll either hate the first and love the second
Or adore the first and despise the second.
You can't serve both God and the Bank.
When the Pharisees, a money-obsessed bunch, heard him say these things, they rolled their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch. So Jesus spoke to them: "You are masters at making yourselves look good in front of others, but God knows what's behind the appearance.
What society sees and calls monumental,
God sees through and calls monstrous.
God's Law and the Prophets climaxed in John;
Now it's all kingdom of God—the glad news
and compelling invitation to every man and woman.
The sky will disintegrate and the earth dissolve
before a single letter of God's Law wears out.
Using the legalities of divorce
as a cover for lust is adultery;
Using the legalities of marriage
as a cover for lust is adultery.
Jesus isn’t holding back. He’s coming right at folks in this teaching. As I read this series of teaching I’m reminded that nothing has changed in the world. The same problems from back in the day, are the same problems we have now. In a word, “hypocrisy.”
The heart of Jesus’ teaching in the section is that our lives need to be integrated. The inside and the outside need to match up. But, too often we use the outside as cover for what is happening inside. The problem of course is that eventually we can’t keep the charade going. At some point, who we really are will be exposed. There is no hiding in the long run.
Jesus says, “You are masters at making yourselves look good in front of others, but God knows what's behind the appearance.”
We are reminded here that small things become big things. Can you be trusted with something small? Eventually you get entrusted with something more. The little moments give us glimpses into how we will respond in the big moments.
In so many ways those of us who are religious are just like the Pharisees in this passage. We are masters of making ourselves look good. The fact of the matter is most of us know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. For the most part we can quiet that internal voice that screams inside of us, the one that doesn’t match the front we have on the outside.
I don’t think Jesus expects us to be perfect. But, I do think Jesus wants us to continue growing. As we mature in our faith we have a responsibility to continue matching the outside with the inside. That is to say, we need to work hard at integrating our life. Those aspects of our lives that are out of step with the Jesus way need to be worked on.
It is possible to grow.
As Jesus says,
“Now it's all kingdom of God—the glad news
and compelling invitation to every man and woman.”
What are we invited into? The invitation is into a second half of life. One where we move beyond the legalisms and obligations of the law. The second half of life is an invitation into the heart. It is an invitation to love well. The kingdom of God invitation is and invitation to grace, mercy, compassion, justice, and righteousness. When we accept that invitation we begin a journey toward what the Scriptures call, “shalom.” This is a wholeness of being and identity, a reconciliation of our lives rooted in grace.
It is peace.