(39) “You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
To know what the Bible says but fail to apply the inherent implication to our lives misses the living, breathing significance these passages point to. And, just as in the famous Buddhist quote, fingers pointing at the moon are not the moon. I have known people that have memorized the Bible, but do not know God.
I was reading recently about a former nun, Karen Armstrong, and her experiences in a convent. I was so struck by the fact that even there, in a place of nearly 24 hour worship and study and a way of living that is supposed to bring one closer to God, this lifestyle with its rules upon rules interfered with Karen growing closer to God. We each must discern when study and diligence actually interferes or distracts us from our own true communion with God.
(41) “I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.”
Whose praise do we seek? When others praise us, it serves to elevate our ego. Inflated egos very much get in the way of the emptiness and openness that is needed to absorb and allow Christ to live in us. Elevated social status says nothing about one’s spiritual life. In Israel, religious leaders benefited from great prestige, but this meant nothing to Jesus. Jesus was unconcerned about social status or approval. It was the individual experience of loving God, and participating in Godly action that Jesus was concerned about.
I think about political officials, and how, although many claim they are Christian, their philosophy of the use of military power and of condoning the death penalty do not convey Godly action, as the fifth commandment instructs “Thou shalt not kill.” I don’t write this to begin any kind of political argument, but just to point out that even though one has garnered praise from men – as in votes or social status, this says little or nothing about ones relationship with God.