Would You Have Condemned Jesus?
Yesterday I wrote a piece about growing in our faith and learning to hold on to our tightly-held beliefs a little less tightly.
Which got me thinking about what happens when things begin to change and transform in the midst of our faith journey.
Experience has taught me that the very reason so many of us hold on to our tightly held beliefs so tightly is so that we don't have to experience the kind of change or transformation that might turn our beliefs upside down.
Then I read something interesting from Madeline L'Engle about upsetting the religious establishment, and I started thinking about Jesus and the way he introduced more change than the religious types could handle.
So they killed him.
First, let me share the quote from Madeline L'Engle:
When [people waking up] upset the religious establishment it is not because they have done anything to diminish God they only diminish or--even more frightening--change the current establishment's definition of God...
That last bit is key, and we need to be clear about it. When people begin to expand the firmly held beliefs about God that most religious types are comfortable with--it causes problems. And it's not because they are diminishing God, quite the contrary.
People tend to fear a God that is bigger than the box they have made for God.
For example, when Jesus appeared on the scene and began declaring that God was making Godself known in an entirely new way through the eternal Christ--embodied in Jesus himself... it was more change than the religious establishment could take.
Here's a question...
Where would we have stood at that moment? Would we have had the intestinal fortitude to stand with Jesus, or would we have given in to our fears about change and stood with the religious types?
Based on the way that far too many Christians fear anything that might challenge their own tightly held beliefs and the way they react to new ideas, different interpretations of Scripture, and even miracles and grace happening right in front of their eyes...
I'm guessing that a bunch of people who claim to follow Jesus today would have not been that keen to follow him then.
Jesus didn't want his followers to become the kinds of people who feared change and transformation. He came to bring it.
Jesus came to change the world, to turn it upside down, and to set people free from the ways that their religion had gotten in the way of enabling them to experience God.
Jesus came to bring life in abundance---the kind of life that can best be experienced through the surrender of self, sacrificial love, openness to the Spirit, and a willingness to be transformed.
So for those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus, we need to check ourselves by this standard---where would we have stood at Jesus' trial?
Would we have passed judgment on him for being too radical, too anti-establishment? Would we have denounced his open and inclusive interpretations of Scripture?
These questions just might lead us to the kind of place where we'll finally be ready to actually follow Jesus--no matter where he takes us.
May it be so for you today and every day forward and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.