Religious Things and Right Things

Embedded in the nativity account of Matthew's Gospel is a peek into the civic and religious leaders of that time, and their conduct during the first Advent.

Matthew writes of the leaders' conduct when they first heard of Jesus' birth from the Magi:
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel’” (Matthew 2:3-6, NIV)).
I think that passage should be a challenge to us pastors and church leaders, every Advent.

Notice that the leaders of that day--Herod and the chief priests and teachers of the law--were not idle when the Magi came to them. Their behavior was even religious. They involved themselves in a somewhat impromptu Bible study! But they didn't do the one thing they should have done: sincerely seek the King. They should have cancelled the Bible study and caught the first mule train to Bethlehem.

How much does that reflect OUR conduct as leaders? How often are we involved in religious activity that distracts us from the "one thing needful" (Luke 10:42)?

A friend of mine recently cancelled his involvement in a regular outreach to the poor in order to attend a study discuss the importance of reaching out to the poor!

It is so easy--maybe more so for those of us in leadership--to engage in "religious things" that prevent us from doing the right things.

Let's not do that this Advent and this Christmas. Let's not miss the Advent. Let's not miss the King. Let's not neglect the right things because we're too busy with religious things.

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