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  • Writer's pictureJohn Whitehead

Religious Purity

As I consider my personal relationship with Jesus and with His Church, I have always been concerned about how I am perceived by those outside of my sphere of influence.

The reason is, in my experience around people of faith, I have found there are many who strive to maintain a level of “religious purity”. This interests me on two fronts. First, I have never considered myself as religious and second, Jesus spoke directly against those who sought to represent “religious purity” in His day.

When asserted, I believe the desire for “religious purity” is almost always an attempt to feel good about oneself in comparison to others.

This is easily seen when watching or listening to some believers as they rail against the sins of the world. Their cry in many cases is also just as loud as they disparage other believers or churches they see as falling short of their demands for purity.

This is very interesting to me as these same people profess to bear witness to their faith in Jesus by maintaining their “religious purity”. Again, this is exactly what the religious of Jesus’s day were requiring and demanding of Him.

He was constantly questioned and rebuked by these religious purest for eating and drinking with sinners or for hanging around tax collectors and prostitutes.

What makes today fascinating for me is, these same people that call for “religious purity” cannot recognize they are suffering from the same disease as those who spoke out against Jesus.

You see, the problem with “religious purity”, is it has always led to personal piousness.

Since we know there is nothing new under the sun, it is easy to see this same pious mindset that existed in the past reappearing today. The irony is, unlike Jesus’s day, today we have His life and words to remind us just how misguided this mindset can be.

The question we must ask is, does “religious purity” make us more like Jesus or more like those who opposed Him? I am afraid we do not have to look far to know that answer.

From here, I wonder if we will allow our personal desire for purity to see beyond the piousness that desire may be exemplifying to others? If not, I am afraid, our lives will just be another example of those who see themselves as a better example of “religious purity” than the God in whom they claim to represent.

Matthew 6:1, ““Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

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