Where have we sent people?
After getting pregnant, I remember running into someone I had known from the church system I had originally came to Christ in. This system is very legalistic. You do. Or you don’t.
I remember she asked me, was I going back to church? Was I attending somewhere? She was not concerned with whether I was taking my burdens to Jesus, the Fountain of Living Water, The Way, Truth, and Life, the Light of The World. She wanted to make sure I was attending the system.
I ran into her not too long ago again, and before parting ways, she made sure she threw in there: ” you know we got to please our Lord.”
I left asking myself, “oh really? If I do so remember correctly, we are encouraged to know Him. To come to Him, to seek Him. To lay our burdens down. To go to our Father in secret. To believe”.
Same with another woman I am getting to know: As long as she attends church regularly, she is going to be OK. She will be fine with God and her walk with Him; that is as long as she adheres to all she has been told is expected of her.
Her relationship seems to revolve around her church involvement, over anything.
I find this a lot. Church over Jesus, the Bible over Jesus. Doctrine before Jesus. Doing..before being.
Of course there are benefits to these things; being part of a community and such. But we forget or never maybe even realise, how much we insist on rebuilding a system Jesus came to tear down.
He came to announce a new way. He also most certainly turned the whole “worship/prayer/church” system on its head. Over and over again.
He stepped out of the temple; He clarified where the scribes and faithful church goers had it wrong and misconstrued.
He was wanting to show them another way. To reintroduce what God had meant all along. To show them the Father.
He reminded them, “You search the Scriptures because YOU THINK that IN THEM you have eternal life, yet refuse to come to me..whom they all point to.”
The whole purpose.
He pointed to people of diffrent classes, character, and conduct, that the religous folk would have considered hell bound; as actually being the ones seeing, hearing, and doing things the right way on many occasions.
And the faithful adherents hated Him for it.
He did not agree with making money off of people who needed Him. He drove out those making profit off spiritual poverty.
We still like to make a quick buck off of it ourselves: seminars, schools, classes, conventions..all will give you something your missing for a pretty penny..of course it will be made up of people who can afford it( many times you can apply and see if you qualify for help paying).
Nice buildings, nice programs, nice lights and seats, to wow the crowd.
Again, nothing wrong with all this..if lives are being changed. Not conformed, not simply comforted, not approved of, not just acknowledged..but changed.
Are people that really are in need being overlooked; while those who are relatively lack free being given all the time, attention, and work?
We all need Jesus! I get that.
But who is IN NEED?
Is it easier that way?
Are those of us who are just too broken: addicted, in emotional need, lonely, financially burdened, homeless, angry, too needy? ..
Just too much to handle? Are we not enough of a quick fix to be relevant?
Do the systems in place not work well enough for us?
Are we in need of a different kind of redemption? You know, something or someone more willing to step into our dark, ugly, sometimes very messy and negative worlds and dine with us?
Is love not enough?
Oh if only Jesus made more disciples that walked and talked like Him! That seen us as sheep, lost without a Shepard. That didn’t charge for a meal or a healing ministry!
That focused on the lost, not the members being impressed..How about going out and being love? What would that look like?
Oh, that He would send those that cared, into the fields ready for harvest! People with His heart and mind. Ones you wouldn’t find rambling about Genesis, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Judges, and Leviticus..but were actually walking Gospels…Matthew, Mark, Luke, John..Sermons on the Mount kind of representatives!
Laughing, dining, welcoming the least of these. No “members only” meetings. Bible studies to engage your mentality..with only those of the same mentality.
But actually on the biways and highways…sinners at His feet! Welcoming!! Come..dine..drink..taste and see!
Where have you gone Jesus!?
Are the widows(single mothers are this generations widow), orphans(fatherless kids), homeless, addicts..being sent to Jesus?
Are we being Jesus for a world in need?
Or are we simply entertaining a crowd who wants to be given a feel good message and have a quick social gathering..to make themselves feel better about their eternity?
See, I come from the other side of the tracks: Poverty, single motherhood, broken homes, addition, financially unsoundness, abuse…instability. And though there have been many people that reached out to me..to treat me like a family member in need…they are few and far between.
I see a system set up for those bored and needing occupied, more than something leading those in real clinical dispair, desperation, loneliness, and in traumatic situations to Jesus..
To freedom..hope..love…that Isaiah 61and 1 type of stuff.
I see a lot of preoccupied church goers passing up the man in need, in a hurry to get to church..to sing..pray…worship..and then likewise condemning the one who actually took their time to help: The Samaritan.
I see a lot of proud people considering all their good works for God, standing in the church looking down upon the sinner. Who knows he’s in need..morally..mentally..weeping..wanting to change..but needs more time..support…patience..acceptance..understanding..help.
Again, who did Jesus say went away justified?
(Not all people and places are like this. I am just speaking of a general vibe within mainstream evangelicalism.)
We sometimes hate that it was not the faithful church goer, prayer, Bible teacher..preacher who was commended in The Bible.
We don’t want it to be the one who did not put in all the hard work, that gets recognised.
How dare they get paid the same wages? How dare they get the fatted calf and party..when we’ve been here, obeying all along?!!
Oh pride. Oh self-righteous ego.
And again, this is just me coming from that side of the tracks: I am aware I also could use much work understanding the perspective of those on the other side. I know we all have been, in a sense, conditioned to think and see things a certain way. We all have blind spots.
We all need to see where the other is coming from.
We all need to both listen, and be heard.
It’s just like we applaud the wrong things still to this day. We applaud those that we can see are adhering to our systems, and consider those not measuring up to them…lost…
It’s crazy how often we go back to law based living, rather than following Jesus. I mean He did say follow Him right? But how often do we actually examine how He treated and taught others? How He acted and what He focused on?
I mean God can’t be speaking to a strippers heart right? He can’t be praising the good hearted, self-sacrificing work of a gay man?
Or could He?
I mean there is no way that I, the faithful church goer, Bible reader, fervent prayer and Sunday school teacher could need reproof right?
You tell me this man, who don’t go to church too often, don’t seem to really know any doctrine, probably has never even been baptised…though he took his own money..gave of his own time to care for the homeless, mentor a lonely child, or pay for a single mothers gas..he couldn’t be the one Jesus commends, right?
I don’t know. What did Jesus say? Who did Jesus say to behave like and why?
Heart matters folks. You can be as cleaned up on the outside as you want..but still a bunch of rotten garage on the inside.
You can polish up, dress up, attend, sing, pray..and still just be as greedy, self-centered, judgemental as the rest of the world that you send to hell.
Likewise you can appear to be a worldly, hell bound, sinning heathen…but deep down be wanting change. Admitting your need for mercy, grace.. Secretly going to Jesus in your prayer closet. And He sees you. He knows you. He loves you. He’s here to help.
He wants our hearts..not our sacrifice.
He wants our honesty. Not our conformity.
He wants us healed, set free, redeemed!
Not pulling strings to be accepted by a particular system’s standards and beliefs…
Think about it: How much of what we do and believe has just been handed down and taught to us? And how much of Jesus has really been revealed to us?