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Commandments or Corban - When Religion Fails God by Rev Michael Bresciani, Jan 2007

Believing the gospel requires among other things a lifetime commitment to pointing out the difference between religion and the life offered by Christ through faith in his finished work. Here is one of those all important differences.


Jesus Christ never commanded or even intimated that men should fight bloody crusades or engage in inquisition. His commands were earthier, more human and called only for divinely driven compassion toward all men. The earliest proclamations of Christ's purpose began right at his birth with "…on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke. 2:14)


So what happened? In a word, religion is what happened. The great and impassable gap between religious profiteers and proselytes, clergy and laity, translators and those who are transformed by the gospel is here in all its complicated wonder as it has been for centuries. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his day and that rebuke remains in force until the end of time. Let's see.


The following rebuke is not the only time Jesus reprimanded the religious leaders but it is perhaps the most definitive. It clearly shows that God never accepts even fanatical adherence and devotion to him as a means of supplanting kindness and loving relationships with others.


"Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye." (Mark 7: 5-13)


The short version of corban is that it is a way to dismiss any good you would have to do for anyone because you are now committed to totally serving God. This was strictly a Jewish idea that came from the millions of oral interpretations of the Torah or the first five books of the bible.


It is best understood when compared to its more modern counterpart the Islamic Jihad or Fatah. The idea that because someone is totally committed to God means that they can blow themselves and others to bits is one example of corban stretched to its preposterous limits.


Most people seriously doubt that this kind of behavior does any service to God. Other than in the Koran there is no precedent or call for such extremism in other religions or the bible. In the New Testament the call is for just the opposite. Christ commanded believers to love their enemies and even those who hated them.


Many cults and pseudo Christian religions including those supposedly based on the bible often require that a person sever all ties with parents and friends. Many also require that relations with all faiths that oppose their views be ended. Here is religion at its ugly best.


Serving God can't ever be used as an excuse for not loving another human being according to the New Testament. In fact the proof that we are serving God is that we love others. (John 13:35) This does not require that we adhere to strange doctrines or practices but it also does not release us from the responsibility of loving those involved with these religions.


Whether a person dies trying to recover Jerusalem for the Church as in the crusades or screaming Allah as they smash themselves into buildings one thing is certain, someone has been deceived, mislead and misused. It also means that someone has not pondered the difference between religion and salvation a difference that separates Christ from all religion and love from the practice of all Christ-less religions.


How can an ordained man of the cloth be so adamantly against religion? It would take volumes to explain that so I must condense and teach it all in one simple statement. When I die the worst epitaph I could possibly hope for on the headstone of my grave would be "He Was a Very Religious Man." Conversely I would be honored above measure if it was found to read "He Was like His Master."


"It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord." (Mt 10: 25a) has since 2005 featured the articles of columnist Rev Michael Bresciani along with news and reviews that have earned this site the title of The Website for Insight Millions have read his timely reports and articles in online journals and print publications across the nation and the globe.


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