Devotional for 10/2/2014


Matt Laney

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but full of stinking rot on the inside.” – Matthew 23:27

According to many, the best evidence for America’s headlong slide into religious apathy is not declining church attendance, but the rising tide of casual blasphemy.

No longer seen as the theological f-bomb of yesteryear, “Oh my God!” is as common as table salt. Once upon a time children weren’t even allowed to flavor their speech with “oh my gosh,” because “gosh” was a thinly veiled substitute for “God.”

This trend provides a golden opportunity for modern day “scribes and Pharisees” (like me).  For them, there are two kinds of people in the world: the godless who say “Oh my God!” to express surprise or indignation, and those who take God seriously and say something else.  After all you don’t hear devout Hindus sauntering about saying “Holy Cow!” or find sincere Buddhists saying “Oh my Buddha!” when they get a little tweaked.

Such a perspective works with brilliant efficiency as long as you ignore Jesus.  He said there are some outwardly clean-cut religious folks who talk a good pious game but are altogether scruffy and crude on the inside.  Actually, Jesus put it much more colorfully.

Yes my heart aches whenever I hear “Oh my God” when a simple “wow, really?” would suffice.  Sure I would like to live in a country where some amount of respect is due to the Sacred.  But Jesus won’t let me take it much further.   Jesus would rather have me examine my own heart for small blotches of self-righteousness and huge looming tombs of divine neglect.


God, create in me a clean heart with a new, right and humble spirit.

Matt Laney 2014

Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.