“I’m walking through streets that are dead…”
What a haunting observation about the world we live in. The lyric came to mind recently while walking around my neighborhood in Xenia.
It’s populated by good neighbors, but if statistics are accurate, more than half of us are spiritually dead. The universal quality of that deadness is manifested in a hallowed religiosity that is full of pomp and protocol, but empty of justice and mercy.
We are capable of doing a little linguistic dance with the meaning of words, but a commonsense reading of Micah 6:8 tells us that justice and mercy are crucial to faith in God: What’s Up With Micah 6:8?
Spiritual deadness is not a 21st century phenomenon, nor is it confined to the Dayton area. The dusty streets Jesus of Nazareth walked through contained the same attributes. He once referred to those people who were self-satisfied and sure of their religious standing as “white-washed tombs full of dead man’s bones and everything unclean.”
We read that and respond by ascertaining that he was not speaking about us, but about those other people. Yes, that’s our escape. Jesus was centering out those nasty hypocrites called Pharisees.
He most definitely was not speaking to or about us, because after all, we are all good Christian people who faithfully set aside an hour or so each week to dress in our finest clothes and worship God.
Why we even give a portion of our income to the church and other charities, so Jesus could not have been suggesting that we possess any tendency toward hypocrisy.
In reality, Jesus was isolating that exact fact as categorical truth because our inclination toward superficial obedience and worship is the crux of the matter. There is no doubt that the Pharisees were prima donnas of hypocrisy, however, in hypocrisy the Pharisees are not alone.
When hypocrisy is laid bare, no one has any place to hide. There is no Us/Them. There is only Us. We are all potential Pharisees who are continually in danger of being deceived into believing that form, style, and outward expression are the crucial concerns of our faith.
Once entrapped in that delusion, our obedience and worship are drained of their substance and vitality as we forget that justice and mercy are issues near to the heart of God.
It is then we hear many say, “What we need is revival.” That makes sense but we ought to be careful to know what is meant by the word revival.
Consider this: Revival, Renewal, Worship & Other Questions