As He was speaking, a Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and reclined at the table. When the Pharisee saw this, he was amazed that He did not first perform the ritual washing before dinner. But the Lord said to him: “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and evil. Fools! Didn’t He who made the outside make the inside too? But give to charity what is within, and then everything is clean for you. – Luke 11:37-41 (HCSB)
How often are we as Christians guilty of being so focused on our outward appearance that we totally neglect our inward spiritual health? As long as people see us doing and saying the right things, as long as we look spiritual to those around us, we are content with our dedication to Christ. But this isn’t dedication at all; rather it is pharisaical. God has no more tolerance for such hypocrisy now than Jesus did when He walked among us.
It is time we rid ourselves of the kind of Christianity that is focused on ritual and tradition, the kind of Christianity that is focused on a list of do’s and don’ts. What matters to God is our inward cleanliness and our inward attitude. If we are seeking to love others and to serve them in that love, then we will achieve the outward appearance of holiness that we are so desperately trying to project by our current piety. Jesus never called us to strive to be worthy of Him; rather, He called us to love everyone we encounter, to serve them and show them mercy.
When we learn to love as Christ loved, from the inside out, our outside will shine just as brightly as our love from within. People will notice. They won’t be able to help but notice. This is the kind of worship our Lord demands and demonstrated in His own life. Let’s reject all forms of outward devotion and learn to let our devotion be self evident by the love of Christ we extend to others.