Mint and Cumin Christianity

5:09 AM

For a while, I thought that sin meant just doing something wrong. Bad theology meant teaching wrong things. Other religions missed God completely because they believed certain untrue things. And that's right, as far as it goes -- but it doesn't go far enough.

When Jesus walked the earth, He reserved harshest criticism not for the harlots and tax collectors who flagrantly did wrong but the religious leaders who did many right, good things:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you tithe mint and dill and cumin,
and have neglected the weightier matters of the law:
justice and mercy and faithfulness.
These you ought to have down, without neglecting the others.
Error of omission -- like when you forget to add the works cited page to your research paper or pray everyday while snapping at your younger siblings as soon as you get off your knees.
The scary thing about errors of omission? People who omit the "weightier things" -- the heart of the matter -- often look similar to those who get the heart right. It's possible to fake the outside and remain dead inside. It's possible to be a "good person" without getting right with God. It's possible to appear "righteous" and "loving" while totally missing the source of all righteousness and love. Think of the Spiritual Ones who will run up to Jesus and say, "Look, we cast out demons in Your name and performed miracles and signs and wonders! Take us in!" And He will look at them incredulously: "I have no idea who you are. Depart from me."
Errors of omission gain serious consequences.
That's why Jesus focused so much on the heart of the law -- because it was so easy to fake the trappings of the law, to tithe the mint and cumin without showing mercy to the beggar at the gate.
Nothing's changed for us. We still must focus on the heart -- on our own heart, on the hearts of others, on the heart of God -- instead of outward issues. And we must figure out what the weightier things are. Are they staying healthy and fit? Are they jumpstarting America as a nation? Are they raising a generation of leaders? Are they equipping families? Are they building wells in Africa?
What is the central thing to Christianity that all believers must emphasize in order to get the rest of these good things right?
The Gospel. When the Gospel becomes less-than-central in any organization, parachurch or life, the mint and cumin outweighs the weightier things. People start following the followers instead of Christ Jesus. People start creating rules and regulations that eventually brick up the heart of Christianity with legalism. People start focusing on "spiritual" things like prayer and worship and meditation detached from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People get concepts like love messed up and support ecumenicalism over doctrinal purity. People start getting way too gung-ho about the principles and practices of Christianity while totally ignoring the Person found within that name.
Any time I find myself subscribing to a brand of Christianity -- an organization, a movement, a label -- I must be oh-so-careful to always, always guard against trading in the weightier things for mint and cumin. Sometimes I take a truth or principle -- either a broadly applicable one or one meant primarily for the likes of me -- and start expecting everybody to look like me, love like me, live like me.
The most obvious example to me was when I judged others according to my stay-at-home daughter mores. The less obvious example is when I start judging other people's walk with God according to mine: "Oh, you haven't learned that lesson yet. You're about five miles behind"; or "You don't listen to David Platt? What kind of immature nobody are you?"; or "You've not been exposed to the TULIP of Calvinism? Somebody call an ambulance before I pass out!"
It's easy to get caught up in "my own kind" of Christianity -- like the focused on joy and golden light photography Christianity or the serious theological Christianity or the let's go save the world Christianity or any other Christianity that starts peeling away from the heart -- Jesus Christ.
Go back, go back to Jesus. Don't let go of the lessons He teaches you about how your life is supposed to look, but watch out that you don't lose the heart. Passionately burrow deeper and deeper into the word: don't get primarily passionate about anything beside the Gospel -- not rescuing orphans or saving families or training pastors. Don't neglect those things but don't stop there. The heart of Christianity goes down an infinitely long way, and you'll never stop discovering and growing if you abide by its heart.
Let's become Christians whose battle cry isn't, "We're all about politics or godly womanhood or homeschooling or right doctrine for God's glory!" but "We're all about Jesus Christ as revealed in His Gospel for the glory of God Almighty!"

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3 impressions

  1. This is so true. It is too easy to judge others by yourself - something we all need to be careful of.
    God be with you.

  2. Amen and amen and amen. This subject has been on my mind lately. This is a huge issue in the circles of people I relate to.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    ~ RacheL H.


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