Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bible devotion: Tennessee Pharisees - Luke 14:11

Luke 14:11    “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

            A strange thing happened in the Tennessee legislature this week. The House passed a bill declaring that the Bible should be the State Book, giving it special status just like the State Bird, State Song, State Flower, etc. An ex-pastor, who is now a politician, proposed this bill. It was accepted by the majority and will now proceed to the State Senate, and then to the Governor’s desk for signing, if it passes there.

            To me, this is a pointless exercise of fundamentalist posturing which will be fruitless and successfully challenged on the grounds of its unconstitutionality. It’s a banal bill and a ludicrous law which only taints Tennesseans as stereotypical backward, bible thumping hillbillies whose ornery ways castigate the forward thinking and future planners for our beautiful State.

            All of you know me. I love the Bible – its stories and teachings, history and poetry, messages and tenets. I try to live by Biblical standards, but also fail miserably as a sinner. The Bible is God’s Word for me and I read it daily for guidance, sustenance, and inspiration. To make it the official book in Tennessee degrades the Bible to a tawdry and subservient political level, where crafty representatives and wily politicians will use it to promote their own self-righteous, sacrilegious, and charlatan ways. I thought that the Pharisees no longer existed; it seems that they are alive and well in the Tennessee legislature. Instead of acting humbly and showing love, the House representatives are exalting themselves and religiously oppressing others – something that both Jesus and the US Constitution strongly and accurately oppose.

Question for reflection:      What does the Bible mean to me? How do I apply its teachings with my life?

Prayer:          Lord Jesus, You warned Your people constantly about self-righteous leaders and oppressive lawmakers. You confronted their hypocrisy and often challenged their misdirected and foolish ways. Enable us to freely, faithfully, and even constitutionally resist those who would try to use their religion to humiliate others and exalt themselves. In Your Holy Name, we sincerely pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask questions about today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s latest church drawings called “Communion Cup.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Cup.

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