15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Jesus proclaims a pretty scathing judgment against the Pharisees and scribes here! Given that I have just endured hosting a short term missions team and translating for another, my mind is reading this as one from a mission’s standpoint. Whether short term or long term, we must recognize that our charge as Christians is replication. In Matthew 28 we will read the great commission which Jesus charges His followers with:
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The majority of us know this quote very well, but do we know the “woe” that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees? Do we understand the implications of doing it in a way that replicates a distortion of the Gospel? Clearly, we make mistakes but this shouldn’t be an excuse to teaching false doctrine. Yes, we come from a variety of theological backgrounds and denominations, but there are key doctrines in the bible that should definitely not be distorted. Most importantly, we should make sure that our walk matches our talk and that we are properly conveying the message. We know that Jesus was constantly telling the Pharisees that their religiosity carried them to hypocricy and that as they converted people to their way of thinking, they were giving birth to worse hypocrites than themselves!
More than once in the past few weeks the conversation about the Apostle Paul encouraging the Corinthians to imitate him has come up. Can you imagine being so bold and so secure in the faith to tell others to follow your lead and example? In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul exhorts the church in Corinth:
15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.
Can you honestly say that to someone? Have you grown so much in your relationship with God that you could wholeheartedly instruct someone to follow you? As followers of Christ we have been given a great responsibility to teach others His Way. We must not take this calling for granted nor should we take it lightly. It’s a privilege to carry the Good News to others, but we must be careful not to distort it. Whether we serve somewhere for a day, a week, or the rest of our lives, we are required to give an account of the Glory of God. Even in our daily interaction with others, we must take care not to distort God’s message. If you call yourself a Christian, then you better be acting like one or else you fall guilty of what Jesus warns against to the Pharisees.