“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” Matthew 15:8-9
(This is a reprint of an article I originally wrote in July of 2002. It still seems quite applicable to today. – Tom)
A lot of attention has been given recently to the wording of the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag. The two little words, “under God”, have caused an uproar across our nation. As news of this ruling became known, I couldn’t help but think of the scene just a few short months ago. You remember it, right? The scene of our nation’s congressmen standing on the steps of the capitol building singing “God Bless America” following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Once again, political leaders of all party affiliations have spoken out. This time with nearly one voice objecting to a judge’s ruling that threatens to remove the phrase “under God” from the pledge.
Both times, I had a similar reaction. What hypocrisy! As we watch the direction the nation continues to take, it appears to me that God is thought of very little as decisions are made. Yet, when disaster strikes, we want God’s blessing. Or when the public cries out against a change in tradition, we become uneasy.
In the verses above, Jesus addressed a question regarding his disciples not keeping the traditions of the elders. He quotes from Isaiah and accuses the religious leaders of being hypocrites. Their talk is designed to appear to honor God, but their actions and motives are far from God. As Christians, are we more concerned about the tradition of a pledge using the words “under God”, or about living a life that honors God? Is our allegiance to a flag and country more important than our allegiance to God? I guess it bothers me when so many cry out against a change in the wording of the pledge when so few cry out against the injustice and evil that continues to grow in our nation.
I pray that our honor of God would be from our hearts and not just from our lips.