September 27

Matthew 21:28-32

“Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.’”

Jesus’ question was so easy that even his opponents got the right answer. We don’t need to be rocket scientists to know that actions speak louder than words. It’s a truth that we learn in kindergarten. And yet for centuries people claiming to be followers of Jesus have developed a system that puts the emphasis on what we say. They have told us that unless we say the right words and confess the creeds in exactly the right way, we will never be able to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

That obvious lie has gained traction in every generation because of our human desire for exclusivity. We want our group to be “special” and not open to every sinner who comes along. And so we’ve dreamed up religious passwords, empty rituals and elaborate theologies to weed out the undeserving. Jesus has some words for those who form such “clubs”! “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” Our companions in Christ, now and forever, are people of every folk and nation, all who do the will of the Lord. They include Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Christians, and millions of others, all who love kindness, do justice and walk humbly with their God.

Thought for the Day: Does it ever make any difference what we say?

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