October 5, 2016
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
I have worked with Christian leaders in intensive discipleship for the past twenty years. Early on in these kinds of relationships I share what I call the four rules of discipleship.
Rule #1. We are all broken.
Rule #2. There’s the broken side of broken.
Rule #3. There’s the whole side of broken.
Rule #4. For everyone who refutes Rule #1, there’s the hard side of broken.
Broken people break people. Whole people heal people. Hardened people hate people.
In my judgment, Jesus is classifying the kinds of Pharisees he is dealing with as Rule #4 people. (Note, the term Pharisee cannot be equated with hypocrite.) Their sense of righteousness was so externalized that they had completely lost touch with the internal reality of themselves. Their hearts were hard and they had no idea of it because it had been covered up in an almost impenetrable religious veneer. Their holiness program was outside in, whereas the Kingdom Jesus was bringing was an inside out approach.
You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
Discipleship to Jesus is the long journey, occasioned by many crisis moments and experiences, of growing from the broken side of broken to the whole side of broken. It’s a process we cannot control but must surrender to. The greatest enemy is not Satan but self deception. The secret of Jesus’ discipleship is the way he teaches, trains and ultimately transforms us to be people formed by the Word of God and filled by the Spirit of God.
You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
It’s a rough translation of the discipleship rules above. In the end we can teach what we know, but we will only reproduce who we are.
Lord Jesus, reveal to me the brokenness underneath my sin and rid me of the guilt and shame of it so I can finally deal with the real issues. I want to be holy, but I know the pathway there must be through wholeness. Thank you for the unfathomable mystery of the Cross—that it is your brokenness that makes me whole and transforms my brokenness into a source of healing for others. Thank you for the beauty of that. Come Holy Spirit. Amen.
1. What do you think about the 4 Rules?
2. Can you think of an example where you’ve seen Rule #2 in action? How about Rule #3? Rule #4?
3. Where are you personally on Rule #1?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.