Monday, March 23, 2015

Jesus Has Two Words For Our Religious Gyrations And Hoop-Jumping

It is tempting for me to think that what I do has the ability to grant me more favor in God's eyes. I want to believe that my effort is worth it. You know, that it's not wasted. In other words, if I am going to do all this work to find another church, help build their new church parking lot, and live a God honoring life, I just want to know what's in it for me. I may not consciously be looking for the payoff, but just below the surface is a simmering need to be seen as spiritual, knowledgeable, godly, and humble. Because Jesus knows me better than I know myself, he speaks to these desires of mine. He alone understands that it's a lot worse than I even know, or can articulate. I cannot fully comprehend the desires and motivations of my heart, but they do not escape his purview.

The Bible reminds us over and over that we have not arrived. There is nothing new under the sun. All the ways we seek to gain position and prominence are the same ways believers did over two thousand years ago.

All the temples [sanctuaries and steeples]
All the pages of the Scriptures ["right" versions of the Bible]
All the sacrifice [devotions]
All the fasting [church attendance]
All the circumcision [repentance]
All the religious education [doctrine and theology]
All the lineage [Christian heritage and legacy]
All the money [tithes and building programs]
All the perfect animals [godliness]
All the Sabbath observances [Christian standards]
All the family ties [Christian tribes]
All the political and social positioning [hierarchy, power and position]

All those religious traditions, trappings, and to do's, they all have to do with our work and nothing to do with God's work. They leave room for boasting, only it's boasting in ourselves. They make no provision for pointing to the God of impossibilities.

It turns out that after all of our spiritual and religious gyrations and hoop-jumping, Jesus boils it down for us in a couple of words. Many ask the question today, "What does this Christian life look like?" We all want to know what Christianity looks like "on the ground."

What Jesus tells us should be of huge relief to our fretting and fearful hearts and minds. There are thousands of voices shouting each day to do it this way or that way. And, not just shouting instructions, but heaping guilt and shame on us if we don't do it just so. Our voices are usually the loudest, shouting at others and shouting at ourselves. Like the pharisees,we are the ones that won't like it much when we hear what Jesus tells us. This is what he says we should do in order to "walk out" our Christianity.

Ready?




















This is about the time when I think, really? Did Jesus really say that? Because, that's not what I'm hearing from my church, my Bible study, or my community group. That's not what most books tell me and it is certainly not what the religious experts tell me.

But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe...” 
Luke 8:50

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 
Mark 5:36

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
John 6:28-29

It really is that simple.

Relax. Breathe.

Shake off trappings and traditions. Tear up the list of musts and the sticky notes filled with shoulds. Maybe for the first time in your life, know for yourself what Christianity really is. It's not a denomination. It's not complementarianism or egalitarianism. It's not determined by your homeschooling prowess or your Christian college degree. It can't be contained by your ability, or lack thereof, to give a tithe or offering. It is not even dependent on whether or not you can list the five points of Calvinism and it is not taken from you if you have no idea who Calvin is, although you may get points if you know who Calvin and Hobbes are ;)

Jesus says in order for you to do the work of God, only believe.

amen.


1 comment:

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