Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Homily 21: God > Temple (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"I tell you, something greater than the temple is here." Matt. 12:6

The Pharisees rebuked Jesus' disciples for supposedly breaking the Law. Jesus, in turn, rebuked the Pharisees for not seeing the One whom the Law points to. The problem with a Pharisee is not that they are religious. Their problem was that their religion was greater than God. For them, the shadow trumped the substance, and the Law (and its trappings) where higher even than God Himself. This was not a statement of logic that they ever spoke. It was a fact of experience that they continually lived. God walked in the flesh amongst them for three years, but they could not see the Lawgiver for the Law. That which was meant to lead to God had taken God's place, and now the very means by which they were to see became their blindness.

A Pharisee, then, is not a legalist; a Pharisee is an idolater. Antinomian types (and other "gutless-gracers") can be just as much a Pharisee as a legalist. That is because a Pharisee is not one who makes rules about how to get to God, but rather rules about who God is. They set up an image of God based on their own logic and/or experiences and then say that the matter is settled forever under heaven. Legalists certainly come from such stock, but so do antinomians.

We all create an image of God out of our logic and experiences. It is not wrong per se; it is the natural way that we comprehend things. What is wrong is when we say that our image is the end of the matter, and defend it to the death against all comers, even God Himself. That is the way of the Pharisee, the idolater. Our image has become graven--set in stone. We must not be surprised when God brings the hammer to them, breaking our self-made and misused icons until we finally reach reality.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2011

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