Friday, September 20, 2013

Going to Church Doesn't Make You Better

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” John 19:1-6a NIV

As I mulled over this passage this morning the thought kept reoccurring to me that Jesus didn’t have to do this. At any moment He could have hit the eject switch and by human standards He would have be justified in doing so. 

Everyone knew He did nothing wrong. Pilate tried Him and found no fault in Him but hoped beating Him would pacify His accusers. Nope! When Pilate brought bloodied and bullied Jesus out and appealed to a basic sense of justice the chief priests and their officials just shouted their demands for death all the louder.

A couple of days ago I spoke with a 89 year old neighbor lady who said going to church doesn’t make anybody better than anyone else. “They’ll rob you just the same.” 

I told her I agreed with her. It doesn’t matter how many sermons we sit through, how loudly we sing or if we regularly make donations to good causes. That doesn’t get us holiness points with God and it doesn’t automatically change the way we treat others. Only inviting Jesus to be closest and letting Him live and love through us counts.

Real love isn’t easy. It is the stuff of real character. It surrenders rights for God’s cause at times and confronts injustice at other moments. It seeks reconciliation and lets people go the way they choose. God’s way of love is higher than our ways and it is only through ceaseless prayer, constant dependence on Christ, that we can know and live Jesus’ way.

There are hard things in your life right now. Some you endure, others you reject. Where you evade the right simply because it is difficult or undesirable you find what John Maxwell refers to as cracks in your character. I often find myself counting up holiness points on an easy path to tell myself I’m alright before the Lord. God help me and forgive me! I need to get off Facebook when I should be working with God to save souls even if it’s something humble like desk work. Everyone of these small decisions lets Christ in and forms a character like His or pushes the eject/reject button.

I praise God that Jesus fulfilled His mission to save all who would believe though it cost Him everything. Following Jesus wherever He leads will bring life to you and to others. Let Him fill in the cracks.