"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Clean Dishes

      This verse is terribly easy for the reader to apply to anyone but the reader. In fact, Jesus was talking to all officious, moral technicians and sectarian purists. This is an indictment of external religion, human efforts at ritual holiness. Since the unregenerate world has always confused spirituality for formal religion, Jesus cut to the chase in this address to all self-appointed soul guards.
      "Cup and platter" primarily refer to religious equipment, but by extension, mean religious formality. This is not directed against the "cup and platter" themselves, but at religious emphasis on their appearance of orthodoxy, while ignoring their content. There is in fact nothing wrong with the practice of religious formality itself, as long as it does not conceal ungodly attitudes and practices.
      Of course the terms, "ungodly attitudes and practices," can be defined liberally enough that they mean nothing. To some, ungodliness is nothing less than the obviously sinful behavior of thieves, murderers and adulterers. To others it is anything less than perfect righteousness and holiness. Both standards ignore the inner motives and attitudes behind the behavior. But that's the problem with standards: their very existence demands policing. Yet, without standards, chaos reigns.
      The obvious solution to this conundrum is to yield enforcement of both personal and religious standards to the only Policeman who is qualified to patrol the invisible.

No comments: