I'm a little cranky and will write on something with a theological flavour today. My way of letting off a little steam. Am thinking of the little bit of Pharisee in each of us...
The Pharisees... the separated ones, out of love for God they separated themselves from the rest to honour God. They interpret the Mosaic laws and they abide by it strictly in order to remain pure and holy in their faith; for their salvation. There's a parable somewhere in the Bible about the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee prayed to God full of self righteousness. The tax collector prayed in shame, fearing God will not accept his prayers because he was shamed by his sins. Tax collectors during Roman times were mired in the corruption schemes of the tax collection system. So to be a tax collector meant that you are corrupted. Yet in the end, the kingdom of God seemed nearer to the tax collector. He was penitent and humbled by his misdeeds. The Pharisee felt the Kingdom of God was his right! Call it arrogance? Birth right? But you see many of these type of people in our midst also.
Hence, the Pharisee felt that he deserved his place in the Kingdom of God. He had after all followed the laws of God. He proclaims his dedication to his God to the world, backed by great outward display of piety... and he judges harshly too because he deems himself qualified by all that.
The little bit of Pharisee in us.. today I'm reminded of that. We hold the holier than thou attitude. We deem others not good enough by our standards and say that's God's standard, and worse still we impose that will on others!
We say we separate ourselves to dedicate ourselves to the service of God. Well and good! But sometimes we become overzealous in what we feel is God's work, because of the exclusive zones we create for ourselves. And we interpret things as we see it, with our finite understanding, and then do injustice by passing them as God's law or will.
What is a church? Or a mosque? Or a temple, for that matter? A gathering of people? A building? God says.. Feed My people. Basically to me that means to see to His people's needs. So what do you think when we bar activities or people from the places of worship? Activities which might otherwise reveal God's love for them? What if such activities bring people a step closer to God's doors? We deem a church sanctuary or a mosque or temple sacred that we declare 'secular' activities off limits there! Or worse still, label non-believers as infidels defiling the sacredness of the building! Doesn't God welcome all His creations? I think as long as the House of God is used to meet the needs of His creation; that which is acceptable to Him, it should be okay! If you defile the house of worship with immoral activities, then I supposed that we'd be incurring the wrath of God. It's quite clear... Feed My people!
A church... the House of God... people of God... they should all agree on one thing... we are here to make a difference in the lives of others. If a homeless were to walk into the House of God, are we to turn them away just because they are of a different faith? Or if the House of God is used to educate the people, are we to say that such secular activities should not be held there because it goes against the holiness of the place? The little bit of Pharisee in us... we start to impose rules which we feel God wants... when it's actually our own.
Exclusiveness is after all, Man's creation.... exclusive clubs, exclusive dining, exclusive credit card, exclusive banking, the elite vs the masses.... now exclusiveness in religion; again that little bit of Pharisee in each of us.