July 8, 2018

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session

Hypocrisy and the Life of Faithful Discipleship
Matthew 23:1-8, 23-26

Read this article as a Word Document

“Holy Hypocrisy”

Jesus is clear—there is much for us to do if we are his followers. Tithing and giving of our firstfruits is just the beginning. We must be active in showing justice, mercy, and faithfulness. This goes beyond the civil niceties we demonstrate while cloistered in our congregations. We must come out into the uncomfortable and unfamiliar territories of our society to ensure that the least among us are receiving justice and mercy, and that we are living out our faithfulness.

It is not enough to say we support foreign missions when families in our midst struggle without the necessities to survive. Community projects at our biannual conventions are insufficient while the police are called to check on black people for doing routine things—more than a dozen reported incidents in the first six months of this year alone. Refugees are suffering within our borders. Families have been separated. There is no justice when toddlers and preschoolers are ordered to appear in hearings without legal representation to give an account of why they fled their native countries.

Jesus expects us to be moved by compassion to give of our money, time, talents, and spirits to correct the grievous injustices suffered by those in our midst, our neighbors. To initiate changes that bring justice and mercy, we must speak up in our congregations and speak out in our communities. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. Roll up our sleeves and pull on our boots. We must be in the thick of the ugliness of insidious injustice. While we are giving canned goods and food, we must also assess how we can correct the systems that cripple people in poverty for generations. We must march, protest, and resist until our civic leaders legislate corrective action for racism, poverty, mass incarceration, denied refugee rights, denied human rights, health care inaccessibility—the list goes on.

“There comes a point where we need to stop
just pulling people out of the river.
We need to go upstream and find out
why they’re falling in.”

—Desmond Tutu

In the last few weeks we have received a court order stating there is no right to literacy in the United States.[1] Numerous reports of black people detained, questioned, or disrupted from simply living are all over the news. The federal government is demanding refugees return to their homelands with or without their children. More than 2,000 children are unaccounted for or cannot be located.

“We have to use our collective voices to yell
whenever we see these injustices.
It doesn’t matter how small because sometimes
the cameras aren’t available.”

—Bozoma Saint John[2]

I hear Jesus telling us that being part of the peace church tradition is not enough. We must become part of the mobilization and movement for all people to experience peace, justice, and mercy. Our faithfulness compels us into uncomfortable positions and requires us to engage in conflict so that we might do justice so all people might live in peace.

—Kelly Bates Oglesby, kellyoglesby@gmail.com

© 2018

1. Jacey Fortin, “‘Access to Literacy’ Is Not a Constitutional Right, Judge in Detroit Rules,” The New York Times, July 4, 2018.
2. Felice León, “Can We Live While Black?” The Root, June 27, 2018.

Kelly Bates Oglesby of Indianapolis, Indiana, is our ABS Online writer for Justice in the New Testament, our Summer 2018 study. She is joyfully married to Herman Oglesby. Kelly enjoys writing and teaching. She is discerning opportunities for pastoral ministry.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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