"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.“ (John 5:39-40).
These scribes and Pharisees were serious students of the OT and could quote extensive portions of it. Further, they could show proof-texts for all their positions. They were especially particular about worship and respect for God as regards the Sabbath. But, with all their knowledge, they failed to see the Messiah of the Old Testament standing right before them. They knew what the scripture said and they were certain that Jesus was not it.
Before we point fingers, perhaps we should consider. We are very certain about the five acts of worship and can offer proof-texts on them all. And we are right. We are careful about how we spend the collection for the work of the church, and again, we are right to do so. But, did you know that if we consolidated all the passages that speak of the work and worship of the church we would have no more than 2 or 3 pages in the average Bible? Shocking? Well, read on.
We search the scriptures and we are exceeding careful to do our worship correctly. We urge everyone to be in attendance to worship God. We debate over the proper actions of worship and in more recent history how to do the “work of the church.” By the latter, we mean how we are to spend the money collected on Sunday.
I keep telling my inmate church that the most important question, really the only question, is “What does it say?” Not, “What do you think it means?” Not, “What did you learn in the past?” But, “WHAT DOES IT SAY?”
And, the truth of the matter is that the New Testament says little about our together worship or the work of a local church. Read it!
Meanwhile, somewhere we have lost the beatitudes. When Jesus preached the kingdom of heaven, this is the whole of it: Poor in spirit, Mourn, Meek, Hunger and Thirst for righteousness, Merciful, Pure in heart, Peacemakers. If you are a Christian, these are who you are every day, everywhere. All the epistles restate and reemphasize these basic character traits. They tell us how to implement these in our lives. The majority of the rest of their words motivate us by telling of God’s love, mercy and grace. Whole books of the New Testament never mention the work and worship of the church.
And, when it comes to the final judgment scene, Jesus does not speak one word about what the church did, or one about whether we sang without instruments as we ought, instead, "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ " (Matt 25:35-36).
So much of our religion centers around what we do at church. Certainly we should be correct in that. But, is that really what the New Testament says? Is that what Jesus and his apostles talked about?
It truly is a lot easier to be right about church than it is to get our lives in order: when we drive, when we interact at work, when we post on social media, when we spend our time, energy and money on everything but what Jesus says in Matthew 5 and 25.
We search the scriptures because we know that in them we have life and they testify about so much that we leave undone.
For, He that would love life, And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips that they speak no guile: And let him turn away from evil, and do good; Let him seek peace, and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, And his ears unto their supplication: But the face of the Lord is upon them that do evil. (1Pet 3:1-12).
Finally, be ye all likeminded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, humbleminded: not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling; but contrariwise blessing; for hereunto were ye called, that ye should inherit a blessing. (1Pet 3:8-9).