Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

Gospel of Luke 9:60

Jesus’s ministry was, to a great extent, presented as a counterpoint to the then-current practices of (second temple) Judaism. At the time, religious practices had devolved into little more than a series of taxes and rules/laws for which you could be stoned to death for breaking. Everything was centered in the Jerusalem Temple, which had a pretty good con game going on (see my post Mary had a little lamb). The entire structure of the Temple cult (this is what it is referred to as by historians) was constructed to consolidate money and power within an hereditary elite.

There were counter-culture movements at the time of Jesus, including the Essenes and the followers of John the Baptist. In the Gospels, Jesus is shown over and over calling out the Pharisees for being hypocrites, and of course everyone knows of his actions turning over the tables in the Temple.

When Jesus calls a potential disciple to follow him, the man wishes to first go and bury his father (a religious ritual which would end up filling the coffers of the Temple even more). Jesus tells him to let the dead (in spirit) bury the dead, and instead to enter the Kingdom of God with Jesus.

Now, it may seem a bit harsh not to let the man go and bury his father, but Jesus is making a bigger point here: Stop enabling those that are ripping you off in the name of God.

The history of Christianity can be seen as a series of initially Spirit-filled ministries which turn into bureaucracies dedicated to taking in money, from the Second Jewish Temple, to the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, to government-mandated Protestant denominations (Lutheran, Puritan), and now to “megachurches” and celebrity ministers that tell you God wants you to donate money to them for a private jet.

As a movement becomes a bureaucracy, it loses the Spirit of God. Please stop enabling these people. The Spirit of God is within you, openly available for you to access it. You don’t need anyone to authenticate it for you.

And if you have extra money, use it to directly help someone who needs it.

 El Greco [Public domain]