He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
Last weekend, my wife, Claire, and I visited Belfast, Claire’s hometown. Whilst we we out for a walk on Saturday afternoon, a car pulled up alongside us, and the driver asked us for directions to Malone House. I was very glad that Claire was with me. I knew roughly where Malone House is, since we considered having our wedding reception there. Not knowing Belfast that well, however, I would have felt rather uncomfortable giving the driver directions; it would have been a bit like the blind leading the blind. Thankfully, Claire, as a native of Belfast City, was able to give the driver precise instructions to his destination.
In today’s passage, Jesus warns his disciples about the Pharisees, a group of religious leaders who not only had a poor understanding of God’s message, but had actively corrupted it. Jesus warns that the Pharisees are ‘blind guides’. Just as I have only a fuzzy understanding of the geography of Belfast, they had at best a fuzzy understanding of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind. Whilst I was reluctant to give advice to the driver, though, they continued to teach people about God. What’s more, they actively misled people to their own personal advantage, to gain money and power. Jesus has stern words for the Pharisees, describing them as a plant that God has not planted, which will be pulled up by the roots. They will be punished for their misleading teaching.
In the twenty-first century it is very easy to access teachings on the Christian gospel. There are Christian magazines, newspapers and television channels, radio stations, podcasts, websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts. This is fantastic, but whilst we’re using these amazing resources, it is important that we are careful to ensure we are not being led by the blind. Can we be confident that the websites we visit or television channels we watch are teaching faithfully, or are they plants not planted by our heavenly Father? A great way to tell is to examine if they have a “statement of faith” that embraces the Gospel, and by reflecting on their use of scripture. Is the Bible at the heart of what they do, or is it sidelined? If they have sidelined the Word of God, it might be worth asking why!
Give thanks today for the abundance of teaching materials we have access to at the beginning of the twenty-first century, but pray that God’s message will be taught faithfully, and that we won’t be misled by false teaching.