Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”
Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” (NLT)
Some of us, years ago, had to leave our churches to find Jesus again. For some, a childhood faith and routine kept them from encountering the living Jesus. Of course for many others this sort of early faith and routine was enriching and resulted in an ongoing and vibrant faith.
But it isn’t always like that. It is not that our youthful experiences were bad or cultic. It was just that faith sometimes seemed like conforming to a set of rules, that church was a settled routine, that Jesus was primarily an object of correct beliefs. Not at all evil, but not at all likely to engage our hearts and minds with an experience of love and grace.
Sadly, some who left a stifling church of their younger days never found the real Jesus or the real church again; old wounds never healed. Others cut through the old mentalities and tasted the power and love of Jesus afresh.
Jesus warned his contemporaries of following religious leaders who would only lead them astray into dead end legalism. Their religion was toxic, despite outward appearances and reputation. The religion of mere externals could not accommodate Jesus. Then and now, dead religion is the subtle enemy of living faith.