We were driving the long desert road between the Old City of Jerusalem and the dead sea. It was everything you’d envision it to be. Sand (and random Bedouin villages) as far as the eye could see.
And camels. Lots of camels.
These gigantic hump-back beasts were everywhere, roaming the sand dunes just off the highway like some wanna be Middle Eastern road kill. You don’t stumble onto herds of camels everyday, so when we saw the hand-made road sign offering the chance to ride one, our car skidded to a sandy stop.
A few things ran through my mind at this moment:
1. Camels are enormous animals!
2. Do my friends Lyndon and Mike feel as awkward as they look?
3. Camels are freaking huge! (Did I say this already?)
Strangely enough though, I never contemplated trying to swallow the thing. But that’s exactly what Jesus accused some people of doing.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!”
–Matthew 23:24 NLT
Last week, I wrote one of the most viewed, shared, and commented posts in the history of Beyond The Risk: “Can You Cuss & Still Love Jesus?” I loved the dialog it started, but I fear a few of you still missed the point.
I wasn’t encouraging you to pick up a swearing habit (although I wasn’t really condemning it either). It’s bigger than that. I’ve found these questions stir up gut reactions that are healthy for us to wrestle with.
So here’s my question to all you churchies out there (like me). In all our efforts to strain out the gnats, how many camels have you eaten? What are those camels in your life?
How do we avoid neglecting the more important things?