This title alone could conceivably offend the most faithful church goer. Many of us first heard of Jesus inside a church, perhaps in Sunday School. However, when we examine the greatest Christian leader that ever walked on Earth, we will see that He was turned off by religion. Many of the religious folk did not even recognize Jesus when He first began his ministry. They were looking for an affluent king that would reign from a worldly throne. Instead, an easy-going guy makes his entrance, laid back riding on a donkey. Anything but conventional.
Jesus was often found hanging out with the social outcast and the unpopular everyday people. He breaks the Sabbath often and rather than following the rules, He gets called out by the sanctimonious religious leaders. They could not see Jesus’ heart because they were so bent on the “dos and don’ts”. Even Jesus’ very lineage was made up of all types of unconventional people, including Rahab, the prostitute. (Matthew 1:5).
Religion likes to keep everything in a neat little package. Not Jesus! He often went head-to-head with demons. When He meets a naked man, living in the tombs, screaming at the top of his lungs, Jesus pointedly casts out the demons that possess this man. He was not afraid to get dirty. The next time we see this man, he is dressed and just “simply hanging out” with the Son of God.
Jesus was not the least bit upset when his home meeting gets interrupted. You remember the story, several crazy guys decided to tear up the roof and lower their friend down so he could be healed. Not only did Jesus heal their friend but He was highly impressed by their actions. He didn’t lecture them on protocol. In addition to healing the man, He also forgave him of his sins! This all happened right in the middle of the living room — not in a church building. Of course, the religious leaders had a heyday with this one. Instead of being excited for this person that was miraculously healed, they found fault in the method Jesus used.
Jesus’ message is love – not rules! In John 13:35, he said, “Everyone will know we are Christians by our love for each other”, not by the list of rules we follow. Jesus warns us against acting godly or religious but denying the power. (2 Timothy 3:5). There is arguably so much more to this “Christian lifestyle” than keeping score. It is vitally important that our lives are changed from the inside out. Our actions should be a result of what is inside our hearts. Certainly not acting a certain way and holding on to a pious dogmatic behavior. Of course, sin must be confronted but love must be our motivation.
The next time we become indignant when we see someone not “acting right” remember it was the religious people that crucified Jesus.
What is your motivation when serving the Lord? If you have gotten lost in your religion or have missed the heart of Jesus, please email me. There is a clear path back to Him!
Rhonda L Smart