Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
In Matthew 23:1-12 Jesus speaks against our desire to receive accolades from others. We naturally like to be respected and honored. And while there’s nothing wrong with being recognized and honored for who and what we are, there’s something wrong with seeking out that recognition no matter what.
A pastor I respect greatly would often remind his congregation that when we insist on getting our own way we are showing our values. Essentially, we have made an idol of the thing we are willing to sin in order to get, or of the thing we will sin about because we don’t get it. Respect is a big idol.
Wait a minute. Those of my readers who know me probably are aware that I almost always wear a “pastor uniform” - one of those funny clerical shirts with a strange collar, normally in black. In fact, last week when I appeared at a meeting of some friends and was in a blue clerical shirt, one of them expressed surprise that I was out of uniform. In some circles wearing clericals is seen as a violation of this passage. After all, it looks like we’re trying to be recognized.
Another thing which happened this last week will illustrate the difference. I was walking from a meeting to the place where I park, several blocks away. A lady on a porch called to me. “Pastor, will you come pray with me?” No, I had never met her before. Because of the clothes I was wearing, I had an opportunity to meet someone, pray with her and her fiance, and tell them briefly of Jesus’ love for them.
The point of the uniform is to show someone what service you can perform. It is to identify your legitimate qualifications. It is not to hold yourself above others in any way. It’s simply to show where you can help and, maybe, where you can’t help.
In the end, whatever we are wearing, we love and serve our neighbors. We leave our idol of self-centered respect and recognition behind. We live in our community, serving Jesus. That’s enough honor for me.
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