Lip Service


A lot of the parables (stories) Jesus told have to do with getting real.

I’m talking about living a spiritual life of substance rather than a virtual spiritual life that only pays lip service to God. On one occasion Jesus fired off two quick ones in a row in order to bludgeon the point home to his thick-headed adversaries. And guess what?

They still missed it?

Here are the parables (from the message — just to make it easy as pie):

The Story of Two Sons

28“Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.’
29“The son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ Later on he thought better of it and went.

30“The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to.’ But he never went.
31-32“Which of the two sons did what the father asked?”
They said, “The first.”
Jesus said, “Yes, and I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God’s kingdom. John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him.

The Story of the Greedy Farmhands

33-34“Here’s another story. Listen closely. There was once a man, a wealthy farmer, who planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, put up a watchtower, then turned it over to the farmhands and went off on a trip. When it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants back to collect his profits.
35-37“The farmhands grabbed the first servant and beat him up. The next one they murdered. They threw stones at the third but he got away. The owner tried again, sending more servants. They got the same treatment. The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. ‘Surely,’ he thought, ‘they will respect my son.’

38-39“But when the farmhands saw the son arrive, they rubbed their hands in greed. ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all for ourselves.’ They grabbed him, threw him out, and killed him.
40“Now, when the owner of the vineyard arrives home from his trip, what do you think he will do to the farmhands?”
41“He’ll kill them—a rotten bunch, and good riddance,” they answered. “Then he’ll assign the vineyard to farmhands who will hand over the profits when it’s time.”
42-44Jesus said, “Right—and you can read it for yourselves in your Bibles:

The stone the masons threw out
is now the cornerstone.
This is God’s work;
we rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it!
“This is the way it is with you. God’s kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life. Whoever stumbles on this Stone gets shattered; whoever the Stone falls on gets smashed.”

45-46When the religious leaders heard this story, they knew it was aimed at them. They wanted to arrest Jesus and put him in jail, but, intimidated by public opinion, they held back. Most people held him to be a prophet of God.

Reread verses 45–46. Those guys are pretty slick, huh? “They knew it was about them!”

That deserves a little golf clap right there. Hello! Almost every parable of boneheaded behavior was about them! It’s always those who think they have it all together, who think they have all the answers and go about life with their self-righteous head up their—

Well, you know.

These “leaders” did almost every outward, attention getting, look at me! thing you could imagine yet they never knew the God they studied all those years.

Not even when he stood before them doing miracle after miracle after miracle.

The miracles they never denied.

The God of the miracles?

Him, they never accepted.

All God ever got from them was lip service. And, sadly, that’s what He continues to get form a lot of religious people today.

Do you know Him?

I mean really, really know Him?

Or are you just giving lip service?