Sunday, February 1, 2009

Every Thing They do is for Show

Matthew 23:5 - New Living Translation

5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – New Living Translation

4 “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.[a] 5 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

To wear “them” (scripture) on a person’s head or hands, he would be wearing a ‘phylactery’ or ‘tefillin’.

These were commanded in Deuteronomy 6:8 as a reminder of God’s promise and His commands. However, as is often the case, only the character of the person wearing the phylactery told of what value was held in wearing the phylactery.

There is a song by ‘D.C. Talk’ entitled “Jesus Freak”. Before I became married, this song seemed sort of ‘corny’, to me. But, I thought it was funny and was a source of encouragement.

I often wore t-shirts that had a message from the “Living Epistles”, God’s Gym series. My favorite shirt had a picture of Jesus Christ in a front, lean, as if He were doing a push-up. He had the cross lying horizontally on His shoulders. On the cross were the words “Sin of The World”. Beneath the sketch of Jesus leaning in a push-up position, were the words, “Bench Press This!”. On the reverse panel of the shirt, a nail pierced, bleeding hand with the words, “His Pain, Your Gain”.

For me, personally, this type of paraphernalia served as a constant reminder of who I am. I am a representative of Christ.

I wore these shirts with the knowledge that not everyone shared my zeal for Christ and I would appear to them just as the song by D.C. Talk suggest; a Jesus freak. I drew attention. And with that, I often got what I expected; scoffing. This was not showing off. I wore the shirts as a message for those who met me, for those who saw me as well as to those who knew me. But, most importantly, the shirts were always a reminder of who I was and the witness I would exude.

In Matthew 23:5, the Pharisees are being referenced as people whom do all they do for a show. My concern for people who read Matthew 23:5 is they will believe scripture is telling them to not be proud of who they are; and will stop wearing t-shirts, crosses, wwjd bracelets and other paraphernalia. I pray these people will be encouraged to continue living boldly for the Lord, in speech, action and activity. Be identified. The days of people asking, "Are you a Christian?" are dwindling. I made that mistake a few months ago when I came in contact with an old high school friend of mine. He’s a Muslim. It happened again with a co-worker who informed me that I was creating a hostile environment for him.

Most people have a desire to be good. It is easy to mistake that we Christians are in mutual friendship. Today, it is not enough to even ask a person if they are a Christian. We have to dig a little further to understand where the person is coming from. Those are the people who may ‘show’ their t-shirts or display an ichthus (out line of a fish) on their cars with out acknowledging to themselves that their conduct or language betrays those icons of identity.

Joshua 1:9 (New International Version)

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."


Vicki said...

I love you because you are a Jesus freak. You just are so out there with your faith. We are witnesses and should truly display the love of Jesus. We can wear shirts, have a fish sign on our cars, and still not have the witness. It's from the inside out.
The scriptures that you mentioned are ones that I have been talking to others about. The Joshua scripture I talked to Victor about.
Blessings and Love Always,
Let's go watch the Steelers win the Superbowl.

Gigi said...

I agree Jim...Jesus warned us against being like the Pharisees who kept increasing the size of their phylacteries as an outward display of their "holiness" - all show and no substance! We are called to be people of substance!! Like you said, it's more than just a tshirt or car symbol...

jeleasure said...

O.k., Hun,
The Steelers eeked by a Super Bowl victory. I'm not sure they deserved to win. The penalties the Cards amassed hurt them.

Thank you for being my wife and having chose me because I am a Jesus freak. Hey, I'm even a Christian, as those in Antioch were branded.
Love your husband.

jeleasure said...

Hi Gigi,
My wife and I spoke of you today in church. We had our first Truth Project meeting today. It was in your July 3, 2008 post I had first heard of The Truth Project.

I will keep you posted on what we learn.

Thanks, once again for visiting my blog and leaving your comments. When we write these messages, we all have our usual visitors. But, I'm told that it is by the number of comments we receive that intriques a passer-bye to take a serious look at what we have to say.

I appreciate your help in getting my messages out.
Thanks again,

Jody said...

Always look forward to reading your post, may God fill your week with His mercy and grace, for He is a great God.

makemeaspark said...

Interesting post. This is a big issue in some places in Christianity. I think that is why Jesus told us to be careful about judging.

In my Church there are many "outward signs" that are judged as wrong. But if you dig you find that the fruit they bear is good. For instance icons and statues are a focal point for sinful humans whose minds wander easily to carnal things in church if they do not have those focal points within eyeshot.

It is really hard to think about carnal things with a suffering Jesus staring down at you, or a compassionate saint looking your way. They are only images out of the living gospel. Books that you can read without being literate.

makemeaspark said...

Oh and my son invited me over last night to watch the super bowl with him. Being from MI we had no vested interest in either team but it was a really good game. That hundred yard touchdown run was a thing of beauty and so were the efforts of Fitzgerald who ran like he had wings on his feet!

satire and theology said...

I am not one to wear a Christian t-shirt or anything like that, but I will not judge those that do negatively, necessarily.

However, I pray I can always be publicly and privately strong, humble and respectful in the faith and demonstrate love.

I hope all is well, Jim and Vicki.


jeleasure said...

Thanks Jody,
I got in late this evening and had to do a few things before I could find time to sit at the computer. I'll check out your blog in the morning.

jeleasure said...

Hi Sparks,
I got in late this evening and I had some things to do that kept me from getting to the computer. I will look at your blog in the morning.
As for icons, statues and the like, I do see value in these things. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is the value of having images, amulets and icons.
As you may imagine, If I were to tell you I was raised in the Pittsburgh area, you would understand how stoked I was to watch the Super Bowl. However, I have to say, the Steelers did not play like champions.

jeleasure said...

Hi Russ,
Welcome back!

If a person can find something to hold his faith in place until he finds a place of maturity, I am for it.
However, my desire as a younger Christian was to be obnoxious about my faith. In the way, I was being obnoxious, it was acceptible, but not always welcome.
Thanks for the well wishes.

Tamela's Place said...

Hey Jim,

I don't usually wear the paraphenelia but i do where a smile and show my love and care for others, it's enough to the point that i have had people ask me where do i get my Joy? :)

jeleasure said...

Hi T.
Thanks for stopping bye.
I don't wear the stuff anymore, either. Only because I associate the God's gym stuff with still having a great build. Maybe A.J. can inspire me to get back to the Gym.

Gigi said...

Ahh...The Truth Project. My Sweet Hubby and I enjoyed each and every week of that series. I expect you and Vicki will as well. We were captivated from start to finish!

I'll be interested in hearing your thoughts...

Greg said...

Hi, Jim. Amazing how the Lord leads! I just now read your post for the first time, but last Sunday, probably while you were typing it, I was taking a picture for my next post..., on THE VERY SAME TOPIC!! Stay tuned, and we can compare notes. :)

makemeaspark said...

J, I think we all went through the obnoxious overbearing phase when in the first blush of love for Jesus. I know that i was pretty annoying and arrogantly believed that i was the best Christian I knew! :-) Now i hope to barely make heaven through much grace.

I used to have a bumper sticker on my car that said "Christians aren't perfect just forgiven" that was a good reminder to me, especially the time i got pulled over in said car for running a red light and realized that everyone could see that a "Christian" was pulled over.....

jeleasure said...

Hey Sparks,

That reminds me of a story my mother in law told me.

The story (fiction) has to do with someone who had some road rage. A cop pulled the person over and took the person to jail. At the station, the police officer explained his reasoning for taking such drastic measures. He said, 'I thought you had stollen the vehicle. Because, with the outline of a fish and those bumper stickers; I just could not see that a Christian would be behaving so poorly as to drive recklessly and yell out the window while using suggestive hand signals.

I worked late last night and did not do any real visiting of blogs. I will try and get back to it this evening.
Thanks for the visit.

Greg said...

Jim, would you QUIT stealing my thunder, dude??? :) I'm typing up that very joke for my blog post!

jeleasure said...

Hi Greg,
The thing is, you keep getting your inspiration from me.

Just kidding. I don't know how it is that we just seem to be in a parallel thought process.

the_thinking_frog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the_thinking_frog said...

Greetings Jim,

Normally I refrain from "Christian" gear as it has not been beneficial for me in making disciples. I appreciate your sharing your experience and will rethink my approach.

I see Biblical examples, such as the young ruler coming to Jesus as he observed something in Him that was distinctive from the crowd. It is my desire that people notice a Christ-likeness in my conduct that sparks them to inquire what it is that drives me. It has been my experience that these inquiries bear considerable more fruit than the occasions in which I initiate the "witness".

Thank you for the thoughts and may God richly bless your efforts.

Joyfully Serving,


Andrew Clarke said...

Good observation, Jim. We should not hide our light under a bucket, since we are called to be light to the world. At the same time, our Christian commitment should not just be outer display as was the case with the Pharisees. I was glad to get your comment on my blog. Best wishes.

jeleasure said...

Thanks for the remarks.
I understand the need to be more than the material symbols of our faith. There is no question that this is what is most important. And, that is what this writing is about.

I just think we, as a community need to bring to life the 'symbolic presence' of God in our schools and back to the streets, in general. Our world is playing the 'out of site, out of mind' game. I remember when those around me who were not Christian would use profanity and then excuse themselves because they were doing this, in my pressence. But, I feel that what struck at their consciences was the 'symbolic pressence' of the Lord.

Here, in our country, we, now have no more voice in the matter of abortion. It is federally funded. I don't know exactly how that translates for clergy. However, I have a feeling that you have read the recent rules having been handed down from Government on what is permitted to come from the pulpit. Can you tell me if speaking out in opposition to abortion is on that list?
Thanks, Kermit.

jeleasure said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeleasure said...

Thanks Andrew,
I am always happy to receive your comments, as well.
Here in America, the Christian is loosing his voice because of voluntary silence and the movement of disinterested folk. I think the symbolic presence of God is convicting. I know this to be true due to having had a colleague tell me I was creating a hostile work environment when I spoke to him about spiritual things.
Thanks for your support on this issue. I also want Kermit to know that I don't think he is in opposition to me. I just am stating that there is a need to bring God back to the communities around us. Not just in church or by character. But, more presence.
Good day Andrew.

the_thinking_frog said...

Greetings Jim,

It appears that we are about to face unprecedented challenges as our moral foundations continue to be eroded. What intrigues me is that when Paul discusses putting on the full armor of God, he does not give us offensive weapons but only defensive weapons (dagger and shield as compared to spear). His challenge for us is to stand firm.

As we walk into the future, the church (in the United States) may face some of the same treatment as the church in India, Sudan, Indonesia, and other volitale locations have experienced. Some of what I observe in the church is more of a desire to protect our turf rather than to advance the cause of Christ.

These are some of my thoughts and I greatly appreciate your input and strecthing!!!

Joyfully Serving,