The show “House Hunters,” which premiered on HGTV in 1999, has produced over 1,700 episodes and spawned over a dozen “spinoff” shows in its 18-year run. Some of these recent spinoff shows include “House Hunters: RV Edition,” “Houseboat Hunters,” “Island Hunters,” and even “Tiny House Hunters.”
Question: Does this mean that normal-sized people are looking for tiny houses, or are tiny people looking for normal-sized houses?
Oh, who am I kidding; I would probably watch it either way.
According to a recent statistic, “House Hunters” attracts approximately 25 million viewers per month. The show has recently been called an “unstoppable juggernaut” by the Washington Post, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Evidently, there are lots and lots of people who absolutely love to watch lots and lots of other people hunt for houses. In fact, although the Pate household has been without cable TV for almost 10 years, this is one of the shows we actually miss watching.
With this phenomenon in mind, I would humbly suggest that within the Lord’s Church, we have an even longer “run” going on in the realm of “hunting.” We aren’t famous for house-hunting, RV-hunting, or even houseboat-hunting…
We have become famous, unfortunately, for hunting loopholes in God’s Word.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “loophole” means…
“a means of escape or evasion, especially a means or opportunity of evading a law, contract, etc.”
In other words, we – as God’s people – have a longstanding track record of looking for ways to disregard, dilute, dismiss, or directly disobey some of our least favorite Bible teachings (that was a lot of “d” words….sorry). This unfortunate claim to fame is also called “hypocrisy,” and it has plagued the Lord’s Church for the entirety of our existence.
As a matter of fact, if it had been technologically possible to turn this practice of ours into a TV show at the point of the Church’s establishment in Acts 2, it would probably be nearing its 2000th season at this point. “Loophole Hunters” would be a TV show that would delight the devil, repel unbelievers, and reveal the superficial faith of millions of so-called “Christians” throughout the centuries. If we were being honest, most of us would probably be the “star” of at least one episode.
Matthew 5-7 is appropriately called “The Sermon on the Mount,” since Jesus was on a mountain when He taught/preached it (Mt. 5:1). This block of teaching is one of the most highly quoted sections of the entire Bible, and it is the longest continuous section of Jesus speaking/teaching in the New Testament.
Within the early segment of this “sermon” are six sections that begin with some variation of the phrase, “You have heard that it was said” (Mt. 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). In these six sections, Jesus takes some specific commands from the Law of Moses and exposes their true spiritual meaning. The Jews of Jesus’ day had been guilty of letting these commands become mere “external” observances, and Jesus intends to restore the “heart” of these teachings as He prepares to usher in His coming kingdom. This entire section of teaching is prefaced with the statement, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:20). In other words, if we don’t allow God’s Word to go deeper into our hearts, minds, and lives than they did, we have no hope.
The six issues that Jesus deals with in this section are:
1.Murder/Anger – vs. 21-26
2.Adultery/Lust – vs. 27-30
3.Divorce/Remarriage – vs. 31-32
4.Swearing/Honesty – vs. 33-37
5.Retaliation/Mercy – vs. 38-42
6.Treatment of Neighbors/Enemies – vs. 43-48
For those who had watered down the meaning of God’s Law, Jesus’ words in this lesson were a wake-up call of the highest order. In no uncertain terms, He was calling out anyone who attempted to turn God’s Word into some kind of “check list” that could be followed while simultaneously living a self-centered life.
If we had the time, a careful study of this section of Scripture would reveal the true depth and spiritual intention of God’s Word/Law in the hearts and lives of those who claim to follow Him. God’s Word was/is not to be viewed as a list of external observances, and it is not to be seen – as so many “religious” people have approached it - as a place for hunting nonexistent loopholes.
With this idea in mind, I would like to spend the next few weeks suggesting a few things that I believe we have “watered down” in the Lord’s Church in recent times. With the use of Scripture, it is my intention to allow God’s Word to expose the true depth and meaning of some of the things that many “Christians” have turned into mere external observances.
So, tune in next week for our first installment of “Loophole Hunters!” And don’t miss next month’s spinoff, “Tiny Loophole Hunters!!!”